Charing Cross Hospital saved with £90m ‘cash injection’
Thursday February 7, 2013
Charing Cross Hospital has been saved from virtual closure and is set for a £90million cash injection after a concerted campaign by Hammersmith & Fulham (H&F) Council and local residents forced a rethink.
NHS North West London (NHS NWL) will formally announce its plans for the future configuration of hospitals and A&E services in the area on Tuesday February 19 but ahead of that, the council has revealed that it has secured a major U-turn on proposals that would have seen the effective closure of Charing Cross Hospital.
The NHS's favoured reconfiguration for health services across northwest London originally included plans to demote Charing Cross into little more than a polyclinic with all of its major specialisms going elsewhere. NHS NWL revealed during the public consultation last year that the preferred option would have meant "you could fit the remainder of Charing Cross health services in its gym".
However, under pressure from local campaigners, NHS NWL will recommend pumping in a massive £90million into rebuilding Charing Cross, securing its future for generations to come.
The council has also secured a change in tack on emergency services at the hospital - which will retain a 24/7 emergency facility with ability to admit patients. This will be virtually identical to Lewisham's re-modelled A&E and will continue to treat the vast majority of people who currently make their own way to A&E. Only the most complicated emergencies, including blue light emergencies, will go to specialist centres.
Tonight (February 7) NHS NWL confirmed to North West London's Joint Health and Overview Scrutiny Committee that the previous proposal to designate Charing Cross a 'local hospital' has been ditched in favour of it being designated as a 'Specialist Health and Social Care' hospital with cancer and teaching specialisms retained.
"The massive opposition from local people to the original proposals has forced NHS managers to rethink their plans," says Councillor Marcus Ginn, Cabinet Member for health and social care at H&F Council. "The £90million cash injection now proposed by the NHS would secure the hospital's future for generations to come and the top priority was always to save Charing Cross and the services so many of our residents rely on.
"In return, we have agreed to halt our legal challenge to the NHS proposals as all but the most complex emergencies will continue to be treated at Charing Cross. We believe that we have secured the best possible deal for our residents."
Under the original plans to demote Charing Cross to a 'local hospital' the footprint would have been reduced to 4,300 square metres. The new recommendation would mean that the newly rebuilt hospital is four times larger.
Charing Cross will also become a specialist centre for community services which means that the many thousands of older and chronically ill patients, who need regular visits to hospital, will have less far to travel. It will mean local people will be better supported to live independently at home and will relieve some of the pressure on already over-stretched GP practices that downgrading Charing Cross would have caused.
H&F Council is now calling for a change in Trust ownership of the site, saying that the current ownership arrangements are too unwieldy and is not giving Charing Cross the focus it deserves.
Cllr Ginn added: "We all accepted from the beginning that the NHS had to modernise. Accepting no change and burying our heads in the sand would have resulted in the worst possible outcome with Charing Cross effectively closed. What we now have is a fully functioning hospital where the vast majority of people who go to the current A&E under their own steam will continue to be seen, while the hospital will continue to retain specialism services, will have teaching status and will continue to offer cancer care.
"This outcome is thanks to the hard work of the community who have campaigned so vigorously."
Read an open letter from Cllr Marcus Ginn: Securing the future of Charing Cross Hospital» (link added Tuesday February 12, 2013)