Two London A&E units To Be Downgraded, Says Health Secretary

31 October 2013

Two London A&E units To Be Downgraded, Says Health Secretary

In a statement to the House of Commons, Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt has announced that two accident and emergency (A&E) units in London are to be downgraded. Both units at Central Middlesex and Hammersmith will instead be replaced with 24-hour urgent care centres.

Two other A&E units in London-Ealing and Charing Cross hospitals- face an uncertain future and will continue to have an A&E service "even if it is in a different shape or size".

Hunt was reflecting the findings of the Independent Reconfiguration Panel review and the Shaping a Healthier Future programme which identified four A&E units under threat of closure. A&E closures are a particularly sensitive and concerning development for members of the public, as protests in North-West London have previously shown.

The Panel group recommended changes to the A&E departments at Hammersmith and Central Middlesex hospitals should take place as soon as practicable but said further work was required for Ealing and Charing Cross.

The theory behind the plans is to redesign nine hospitals in north-west London so the ‘most serious emergencies’ can be dealt with at A&Es in Hillingdon, Northwick Park, West Middlesex, Chelsea and Westminster or St Mary's hospitals.

Mr Hunt said: "Improvements in emergency care alone should save around 130 lives per annum and the transformation in out-of-hospital care will save many more, giving north-west London probably the best out-of-hospital care anywhere in the country."

Hunt also added that he wanted ensure there was no uncertainty around the future of Ealing and Charing Cross and that any changes consequent to the  programme should be implemented by local commissioners following "proper" talks with the public.

The Department of Health said the changes to A&E at Hammersmith and Central Middlesex hospitals would be made after the winter. Those changes will entail £80m to be spent on both Ealing and Charing Cross hospitals, which will have A&E units open 24 hours a day.

These will have senior doctors and nurses and other emergency care professionals; access to specialist consultant opinion, social care and psychiatry; a range of diagnostic services including pathology and radiology, and the ability to admit people to hospital.

Earlier in the week, the Court of Appeal ruled Mr Hunt did not have power to implement cuts at Lewisham Hospital in south-east London.

During the summer, a High Court judge ruled Mr Hunt acted outside his powers when he decided the emergency and maternity units should be cut back and the appeal court backed that decision.

If you have experienced any form of medical mistreatment at any of the above mentioned trusts, or want to better understand exactly what your patient rights are, we are pleased to offer advice and support to you. Our specialists have wide experience of providing advice and support across a number of areas relating to potential medical mistreatment, such as misdiagnosis and delay and surgery errors, for example.