Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt will take the decision in 2013 on whether to close four A&E units in North-West London, against a backdrop of massive bed closures in the eight-borough area.
The A&E units are at Charing Cross, Central Middlesex, Hammersmith and Ealing hospitals. The campaign against closure has included local marches, including one march of at least 2,000 people in Ealing where the local council has delivered leaflets opposing closure to all of the residents.
NHS North West London’s consultation on the closure plans has just finished. Their plan, “Shaping a Healthier Future”, suggests that patients could be diverted from hospitals into more treatment in the community, but union representatives have pointed out that community health services are themselves being cut.
According to Health Emergency, the plan is to reduce hospital admissions by 158,000 a year — 148,000 emergencies and 10,000 elective cases — and outpatient attendances by 600,000 a year.
Health Emergency also claims that there are additional plans to axe more than a quarter of the 3,449 available beds in the NHS North West London area.
In the light of this, Health Emergency is calling for the consultation to be re-opened so that the bed cuts can be factored into plans.