Friday, 13 September 2013

New Hospital Row

Our Council and their colleagues within the NHS management team closing down Charing Cross and Hammersmith Hospitals have launched another “deal”, hailing it as a “boost” to services. They claim that the extra services will mean that the hospital becomes a national ‘centre of excellence’ for routine surgery. The local community campaign, however, have dismissed it as “another cynical attempt to muddy the water”, obscuring the fact that the majority of services are still set for the chop.

Our Council lauded the deal:
“The news is a further boost for Charing Cross after the original plans led to widespread opposition. Since then, the council has worked with the NHS to increase the number of services offered on the site and develop Charing Cross as a specialist health and social care hospital”.

“Under new proposals, Charing Cross would continue to cater for more than 80% of its current cases. News that elective surgery is now on the list of possible future services would further boost the amount of expertise at the site, meaning patients in the local community benefit from the care it gives, and giving it greater status as a teaching hospital”.
With Cllr Marcus Ginn, Cabinet Member for Community Care, arguing:
"We have always said that negotiation is the best way of securing the hospital's future rather than costly legal action which was always doomed to failure and could have potentially left us with very little.

"Through negotiation, the list of services planned continues to expand. We still want more and will call for more when we see the Secretary of State."
But MP Andy Slaughter was scathing:
"To be clear, Hammersmith & Fulham Care Commissioning Group and Hammersmith & Fulham Council do not support a hospital on the Charing Cross Hospital site; they only support an investigation into having additional primary care and treatment facilities (the 13% option). The report into this is now 3 months late.

The Council’s press release states that “Responding to calls by Hammersmith & Fulham Council, Imperial College Healthcare NHS Trust which runs the hospital, last night discussed the future Charing Cross as a centre of excellence for elective (non-emergency) surgery.”

This is not a new idea, and Imperial Trust has been looking at this option for a while now. I mentioned this nearly a month ago in my column for the Hammersmith & Fulham Chronicle on the 14th of August and in my e-news of the 12th of August.

This would obviously be a better outcome but Charing Cross would still be left without emergency medicine or an A&E department. In addition, under this scheme many of the remaining beds would be private. The Care Commissioning Group opposed this option as it would would weaken Central Middlesex Hospital, which is already loss-making. This was in the Joint Health Overview and Scrutiny Committee papers last week.

Again the Council is trying to claim credit where it is most certainly not due. The fact that the Council’s press release does not once refer to the Save our Hospitals campaign speaks volumes".

So where does that leave us?

The problem for our Council, surely, is that having claimed to have “saved” the hospital they lost all credibility when it transpired that they had done anything but.

And their new round of PR stands in stark contrast to the outcome secured by local authorities who actually stood up and fought for their local hospitals such as Lewisham.

As the local community there celebrate their hospital genuinely being saved, the people of Hammersmith are offered platitudes instead.

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