Our Council, it's fair to say, is unhappy with the line I generally take on their position. They take issue with the idea that they are happy with the closure of our A&E departments and argue that they simply negotiated for the best they could get. Here's what a spokesperson told me yesterday:
"We are not backing A&E closures - what we have been doing is negotiating the best possible deal for residents on future of Charing Cross and Hammersmith Hospitals. We are absolutely delighted that the campaign has forced a major u-turn in that new proposals now protect the future of CX where as the original proposals did not. We have said all along that we have not got everything that we wanted but we are continuing to talk to the NHS/health providers to ensure that our hospitals offer the best possible services to our residents".And yesterday a "good news" press release was sent out, entitled "securing a brighter future for healthcare", again from the Council, which announced the creation of a new Health & Wellbeing Board which will oversee the changes they have agreed with NHS bosses. Cllr Marcus Ginn said:
"The community campaigned achieved a huge amount," he said. "We effectively safeguarded the future of hospital itself. While we recognise that, we are not taking our eye off the ball. We are continuing to negotiate for more."Cllr Ginn said he supports the plan to provide a world-class specialist emergency centres for the most complex cases, but wants to improve the level of everyday emergency care available at the new Charing Cross.
"Whether it is in the home or in the hospital, we will do everything we can to ensure our residents receive the very best standard of care.I have said all along that this is best done by sitting down and working with our healthcare partners. That is exactly what we are doing."All sounds like a bright new world, but as the vid above shows, the community campaign is far, far from convinced. And, frankly, they are angry. Here's Andy Slaughter MP, responding to Cllr Ginn this morning:
"Cllr Ginn appears dangerously confused and I would advise he seeks emergency medical treatment (though this will not be available at the borough’s A&Es under the plans the Conservatives are promoting as they will both close).
Once again the Tory councillors are treating residents with contempt. Their claim to have ‘effectively safeguarded’ Charing Cross is a cobbled together proposal to close only 87% of services on the site rather than the 97% which the current NHS decision demands. In both schemes the main hospital would be demolished, at least 90% of beds go, all acute services including A&E would close and the majority of the land be sold for luxury high rise flats.
Instead of insulting our intelligence perhaps Cllr Ginn would like to join the Save our Hospitals campaign every Saturday in King Street, where we rally support for our NHS and counter the Council’s lies".Two very different versions. For me it's quite straightforward - the Council did a deal which wasn't anywhere near good enough. It's interesting that they have started to hint that they are "negotiating for more" without specifying what that "more" may be, if only because it illustrates how even they must know how poor the deal is.
In the meantime the legal challenges brought by Ealing Council now appear the last best hope to make the Government think again, and to save at least some of our A&E services.