Monday, 5 September 2011

Hospital closures draws super-hospital to Shepherd's Bush

Hammersmith Hospital on Du Cane Road: New Super-Hospital?
The Independent reports that St Mary's hospital in Paddington looks set to be closed amid a cash crisis that has engulfed Imperial College Healthcare Trust, the authority that runs St Mary's along with Hammersmith Hospital on Du Cane Road W12 and Charing Cross Hospital in Fulham.

The hospital, based in Paddington, is a landmark hospital and teaching facillity which has a proud history of advancing medical science - it is where Alexander Fleming invented penicillin, for example, earning him a Nobel prize.

The proposal, which has been leaked to the press, is that the hospital be knocked down and the land sold off for luxury flats. Sound familiar anyone? 

Quite apart from the political firestorm this is likely to start, as St Mary's is one of the leading teaching hospitals in the UK, the main implication for H&F is that Imperial College Healthcare Trust is apparently minded to move the services currently at St Mary's into Hammersmith Hospital in East Acton/Shepherd's Bush. What this would mean for local residents at first sight is not that bad - a bigger and better hospital. But consider it would be bringing huge numbers of patients and people with it, onto what until now have been quiet streets adjoining the hospital and Wormwood Scrubs prison, and you begin to see how the area would be transformed.

Charing Cross Hospital - set for closure?
The other option, reports the paper, is that the Charing Cross Hospital in Fulham be closed altogether. This has regularly excercised our Council and I reported in March 2010 how they accused the last Labour Government of planning to do this - but it now it seems it could happen under this Conservative one. This, however, is thought to be less likely, apparently because of its location serving SW London but it will cause deep concern across H&F and beyond. 

The politics of this are that Andrew Lansley, the Secretary of State for Health, has placed a moratorium on any further hospital closures. This, you might remember, came in response to attacks from Labour about how the Tories want to privatise the NHS, which they vehemently deny. The truth, as ever, is somewhere in between. The brutal fact is that Imperial Healthcare Trust is £100 million in debt and is basically bankrupt - so how long can it realistically hold on to the three sites?

But these plans which the Indie is reporting seem very well advanced and it is clear that something is afoot. Whatever they turn into as far as Hammersmith Hospital in Shepherd's Bush is concerned, it is likely to transform one of the quietest areas of the Bush forever.

0850 UPDATE - Andy Slaughter MP has sent me this response (complete with pic!) to this story:

"On Saturday with Labour members and supporters I was collecting signatures in Hammersmith and Shepherds Bush as part of the national campaign to Save our NHS from cuts and privatisation (pic attached). We didn’t realise how soon this would become a real issue in our back yard. This is not the first time the Tories have tried to close Charing Cross. We stopped them doing it in the 1990s and we will do so again this time. I am talking today to Imperial management and unions, and seeking a meeting with Andrew Lansley, the Secretary of State for Health. The campaign to save Charing Cross will be the biggest the borough has seen and I’m sure will attract support from across the political spectrum"

"We are fortunate to have three of the best hospitals in the country serving local people. That is something we should be proud to maintain and improve. Labour invested millions in the local NHS, now the Tories are proposing to close one or even two local hospitals. Cameron’s promise that the NHS would not be cut is exposed as the most blatant piece of trickery". 

I have asked the Council for comment but they have not replied as yet.

1500 UPDATE - Imperial Healthcare Trust have just released the following statement rubbishing the Independent's report: 

"Following media coverage today, Imperial College Healthcare NHS Trust would like to categorically deny that we have any plans to close St Mary's Hospital or any of our hospital sites".

"We have not engaged any firms of architects to look at our estate with a view to converting it into residential properties".

"We would like to reassure all patients and staff that providing the highest quality clinical care across all our sites remains our absolute priority".


  1. Will Greg Hands oppose this, given all his scaremongering in opposition? After his maiden speech in 2005, he said, "It is vitally important for patients in Hammersmith & Fulham that the Charing Cross Hospital remains on its current site, with all of its current services. Any transfer of services to Hammersmith Hospital would be a disaster for local people, as it is extremely inaccessible by road and public transport." See here:

  2. Hmm. The Indy is the only one running the closure story. What is their source? There's now one local rag reporting the opposite... but no other news coming out on this one:

  3. This one wasn't true, but it speaks volumes about the public's trust in the ConDems that so many people found it to be credible!

  4. But surely Imperial must be solvent given that they have bought a huge part of the BBC site (which is a significant part of the White City Opportunity area) and are building a new west london campus (7 storeys tall currently and growing) Surely no bank would lend to them beyond their capacity to pay back??? that could never happen!!

  5. @Carl: I trusted that the Indy would have a reliable source!

    @Anonymous: Imperial College London (the university which is profitable and owns the BBC site) is a completely separate entity to Imperial College Healthcare NHS Trust. They share the name and Imperial's medical students are taught in the ICHT hospitals but other than that they operate very separately...

  6. I don't know if you saw this, Chris... The Indy really, really hit back hard at IC NHS Trust.