Friday, 21 September 2012

MPs row over hospital closures

Greg Hands has been accused of "hollow" support for the campaign to halt the closure of Charing Cross hospital by our own MP Andy Slaughter this afternoon. Responding to the revelations that Chelsea & Westminster hospital has been actively campaigning for the closure of both hospitals in Hammersmith & Fulham in order to save their own skins, Mr Slaughter has been vocal in his condemnation of what he called "divisive and cynical" tactics.

Today he went a step further and had this to say in a broadside against neighbouring MP Greg Hands, whose constituents use both Chelsea & Westminster as well as Hammersmith hospitals:
“The campaign on the Friends of Chelsea and Westminster Hospital which still lists Mr Hands as a vice-president is disgraceful – it is actively encouraging patients to vote for an option that closes a “rival” hospital. 

His position (and Malcom Rifkind’s) as a vice-president of the Friends - which is still advertised on their website - lends MPs’ support to this campaign, and wittingly or not, appears to endorse it. 

The really wicked thing about this is that the Trust is deceiving people into voting for the closure of Charing Cross by dressing it up as a vote merely to keep Chelsea and Westminster open. People will be angry when they realise the trust is trying to dupe them like this – and an MP should not be anywhere near such a dishonest campaign – except to condemn it loudly. 

Constituents in all three affected areas who have heard his half-hearted support for the apparently doomed Charing Cross hospital, will be shocked to learn that he is not explicit in his condemnation of this campaign to close Charing Cross.

He should immediately and publicly dissociate himself from this cynical attempt at divide and rule. Without this, protestations of support for Charing Cross Hospital have a very hollow ring.”
But Mr Hands is having none of it. He told me today that:
“Keeping the A&E at Chelsea & Westminster is vital. The hospital has every right to argue its case, but I would have preferred them to have joined me in arguing against the whole consultation. 

“As I reported in my email bulletin last week, I met the senior management of the hospital and told them this plainly. I believe Chelsea & Westminster will be badly affected if Charing Cross Hospital is downgraded. It will have to deal with a big influx of patients from Fulham and beyond. 

“My constituents need and use both A&Es. That’s why I have also been a Friend of Charing Cross Hospital for the last 14 years, repeatedly defending it against attacks of this kind. 

“All parties locally have joined me in fighting to keep A&E services at both hospitals. This is a battle we need to win.”
Meanwhile the march to save our hospitals in H&F will be taking place on 6th October, and the organisers have had to make a couple of changes to the route and timings, so here they are again:

The march will start from Shepherds Bush Green, assembling in Rockley Rd and will proceed to Lille Road Rec for the final rally.

Assemble from 11am; Leave Rockley Rd 12noon, arrive Lillee Road about 1pm. All details, including a map, are here


  1. It is unseemly for hospitals to squabble about which A&Es should close, but would campaigners accept that we Londoners would be better served - and more of us would stay alive - if we had fewer and bigger A&E centres?

    This does not affect the vast majority of walk-in injury cases, that can still be dealt with, 24-hours a day, at all major hospitals.

    What it DOES affect are major cases using ambulances.

    International experience is that large A&E departments are the best options. Most people stay alive because of the quick arrival of modern ambulances, with paramedics who can stabilise patients. Ambulences used to be white-van man, operating a scoop and shoot to a nearby hospital.

    A longer journey to hospital simply does not matter, when weighed up against the advantages of large centres that have experienced teams of doctors, and 24-hour access to diagnostic equipment and consultants on-site. It is the 'turnover' of 'difficult' cases that make good doctors, not a crude matter of funding.

    The only down-side to halving the number of A&Es in London is that journeys to visit patients take longer. However, in the most extreme case, better that than visiting another, perhaps more local hospital's mortuary.

  2. Can't help but think the march would be a bit more powerful if it went from one hospital to the other. Though I'm sure there are reasons not to...? Will definitely try and make it, not least becasue i'd like to hear a stronger argument than "its a bit further to travel".

  3. It's all about Real Estate and proximity to public transport, just like the former Queen Charlottes. Anywhere near a Tube station, they want to sell for development.

  4. If you need paediatric A&E - as my family has on several occasions - you will find yourself visiting Chelsea and Westminster, as neither Hammersmith nor Charing Cross has this facility any more. For the record, neither of my children appear to be any the worse for this, which MAY bear out what baarnett says.