Local health bosses were grilled at a tense meeting at Hammersmith Town Hall this week – and were unable to clearly state the crucial details behind their plans to downgrade Charing Cross Hospital.
In a performance that drew criticism from councillors and residents, the health chiefs were unable to say what services would remain at Charing Cross, what would happen to the A&E, or even if there would be any acute care beds. They were also unable present the business case on which their plans are based – despite them having passed it to Central Government nearly a year ago.
Cllr Stephen Cowan, H&F Council leader, said: “It has been five years since the ridiculous plan to downgrade Charing Cross Hospital was launched – yet health officials say they still can’t tell us exactly what will happen if the current A&E is allowed to go or exactly what they plan to replace the current hospital with.
“This is simply not good enough. I call on them to take on board the independent recommendations of the Mansfield Health Commission and immediately halt their plans. The people of this borough deserve better – and we won’t stop fighting until they get it.”
The proposals for ‘Shaping a Healthier Future’ – which involve slashing services at Charing Cross Hospital including its heavily used A&E – were deemed deeply flawed by the landmark Mansfield Report into local health service reorganisation, published in December.
The local health chiefs were summoned to attend H&F Council’s health scrutiny committee meeting to directly address the concerns set out in the report, but they failed to do so.
Committee member, Cllr Hannah Barlow, told the panel they had failed to respond to the Mansfield Report as the committee had requested. She said: “What we have been given today is a top-line vision slide deck, but what we had actually asked for is a considered response to the report’s findings.
“There has been no response or consideration for the vast amount of work that has gone into the Mansfield report. The number of residents and healthcare professionals that have offered their input into the report is significant. It is not to be discredited.”
The panel, comprising top members of H&F Clinical Commissioning Group and Imperial College Healthcare NHS Trust, were invited to H&F Council’s Health, Adult Social Care and Social Inclusion Policy and Accountability Committee. In their evidence, they reaffirmed their commitment to the Shaping a Healthier Future programme, which they say enjoys the support of clinicians and will improve outcomes for patients.
You can read Michael Mansfield QC’s landmark report on North West London NHS ‘Shaping a Healthier Future’ programme here.