Tuesday, 11 September 2012

Chelsea & Westminster lobbies for Charing Cross/Hammersmith closure

Chelsea & Westminster hospital is using tax payers money to lobby for the closure of neighbouring Chairing Cross Hospital in our borough, and that of Hammersmith hospital too. In a deeply cynical move the health authority that is responsible for our hospitals, Imperial, is itself rowing back from a commitment to "consult" with local people and instead promising to simply use "local press" instead. As our MP points out with the readership of the local press being very low this effectively means many people will not be consulted at all.

I attended a campaign meeting of the community group Save our Hospitals last week where this was laid bare, including by residents of Kensington & Chelsea where Chelsea & Westminster hospital is based, who came along to offer their support to our campaign, so disgusted were they at the pitting of local people against each other. 

Following our meeting the NHS NorthWest London group of health bosses held its Annual General Meeting in Westminster on Friday, at which they were questioned by local MP Andy Slaughter among others. They admitted that they only planned to use "local papers" instead of a genuine local consultation that reached the population as a whole and had little to say in defence of Chelsea & Westminster's use of tax payers cash in this way. 

Mr Slaughter has written to the Chief Executive of the Chelsea and Westminster Trust to object to this and to ask them to discontinue the campaign and to withdraw their misleading and divisive postcards from public circulation. They are at present being placed in patient areas around the hospital and being heavily promoted in a newsletter, also produced with public funds. It urges people to vote simply for "Option A" which in terms of the consultation means they stay open but our own hospitals do not. This is presented as keeping the "NHS safe in our hands" complete with tinted pic of baby being protected from those nasty men with clipboards. 

Andy Slaughter said:
“I have no objection to Chelsea and Westminster campaigning to keep their A&E open in a united front with other Hospitals in the area. But it is highly unprofessional and counterproductive to set one hospital against another and it’s scandalous that they use public money to do this.”
Mr Slaughter also had harsh words for Imperial Healthcare Trust.
“Imperial, by contrast, is saying little or nothing about the proposals to close 2 of its 3 A&E departments and to dismantle the whole of the Charing Cross site. I am informed that they have taken on expensive PR consultants to defend their position against public criticism. They would be better employed in defending their own world-class hospitals from the government cuts which will see our local health service set back by generations.”

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