Friday, 14 September 2012

West Middlesex joins Chelsea & Westminster to campaign for H&F hospital closures

The farcical "consultation" being run by NHS North West London is now revealed to be one in which two hospitals are conniving with each other to save their own skins at the expense of both hospitals serving Hammersmith & Fulham. Just over the borough boundaries at either end of our borough we now have evidence that both West Middlesex and Chelsea & Westminster are running tax payer funded publicity campaigns urging people to vote for that option.

A fellow campaigner from the Save our Hospitals campaign which, along with our Council, is spearheading the local campaign to save Charing Cross & Hammersmith Hospitals needed to visit West Middlesex for an outpatient appointment recently. Here's his account:
"I attended a podiatry outpatient department at West Middlesex Hospital today only to be assaulted at the entrance by posters and flyers urging me to ‘Act Now’ to save the hospital’s A&E, children’s and maternity services.

Like Chelsea & Westminster, the West Middlesex has launched a prominent and highly misleading advertising campaign aimed at frightening patients into thinking there is a real risk of the closure and urging people to ‘strongly support’ Option A.

As I left the hospital I had a very interesting chat with a volunteer from ‘Upbeat’, the West Middx heart prevention and patient support group who mans an information stall by the entrance. He explained how, like other heart patients who live near the hospital, he was worried about the possibility that West Middx might lose its stroke unit and had been persuaded by the hospital’s management to vote for Option A. He said he had now advised his group’s 1,600-strong membership to follow suit! 

On the tables there was also a laminated letter from Dr Tim Peters, the chair of the hospital’s medical committee, that had been published in the 31 August edition of the Housnlow, Heston & Whitton Chronicle. Headlined ‘Help us save your hospital services’ it reads: 

“Option A offers the greatest benefits with the fewest negative effects on patients. It uses West Middlesex and Chelsea & Westminster’s modern, well-situated hospitals… 

“Option C doesn’t make good use of the excellent facilities and services already available at West Middlesex. It would mean West Middlesex would lose it’s A&E, maternity, stroke and children’s services. It would threaten the hospital’s financial future and its ability to provide local services. It also provides poor value for money for the NHS as a whole. 
“If you agree that Option A will be best for you and your family’s needs, then please support us to fill in a consultation form. Please encourage your friend’s and family to do the same.”

He goes on to reflect on what all of this means, and asks:
"Why aren’t the managements of Ealing, Hammersmith and Charing Cross conducting similarly high profile patient information campaigns? Is it because that, unlike C&W and the West Middx, they have scruples about biasing patients and wish to ensure the consultation process is fair? Or is it because they weren’t given a heads up about the closure plans and therefore had no time to prepare a publicity campaign? There is a third possibility, of course, and that is that they did know about the plans but were advised not to waste money chasing a lost cause. Either way, it stinks".
Hard to disagree. And no wonder the BBC among others are starting to report on the flaws in this so-called "consultation".

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