Report raises yet more doubt about emergency unit closure plan

A damning report on the quality of healthcare at Chelsea and Westminster Hospital has raised major concerns about whether its A&E could cope if emergency facilities at Charing Cross close.

An inspection report by the Care Quality Commission (CQC) rated Chelsea and Westminster's A&E as 'requiring improvement' while also concluding that some of the medical staffing levels 'did not meet national recommended standards' at the Fulham Road hospital.

The inspectors noted concerns from staff that the A&E unit was struggling to cope because of the local reconfiguration of services.

And if Charing Cross Hospital were to close, experts predict 40 extra cases a day would also have to shift to the already overwhelmed Chelsea and Westminster Hospital.

H&F Council leader, Cllr Stephen Cowan, said the report raised yet more doubt about the wisdom of closing A&E at Charing Cross.

He said: "Chelsea and Westminster is clearly struggling to cope with its current case load, so how on earth will it cope with an extra 40 cases per day if Charing Cross A&E closes? This shows how ill-thought out the current proposals are.

"Across London and across the country we are seeing A&Es struggling to cope with existing demand. It is total madness to think about further closures."

The CQC said that the Chelsea and Westminster Hospital NHS Foundation Trust requires improvement in four out of five areas.

It said that, while the overall standard of patient care at A&E was 'good', the service was under increasing pressure because of rising attendances which was causing delays in assessment and treatment. It noted that waiting times at A&E exceeded the four-hour national standard.

Staff told inspectors that morale at A&E was 'low' with insufficient levels of engagement with management.

Overall the CQC rated the trust as requiring improvement when it comes to the safety, effectiveness, responsiveness and management of services.

Cllr Cowan said that he will immediately be writing to the Secretary of State with his concerns and added: "We should be focused on improving A&E services, not taking them away.

"We will continue to do everything in our power to block the removal of emergency services at Charing Cross."

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