More than 350 people in just one week were forced to wait more than four hours to be seen at Charing Cross Hospital’s A&E.
And with local health bosses planning to downgrade the department in Fulham Palace Road to an ‘urgent care centre’, demand for its A&E services has risen 29 per cent in two years.
“With A&E under greater demand and hard-pressed staff struggling to keep waiting times down, the plan to effectively close A&E at Charing Cross Hospital is both cavalier and dangerous,” said Cllr Stephen Cowan, Leader of Hammersmith & Fulham Council.
During the second week of the New Year, 889 people attended A&E at Charing Cross, with almost 40 per cent of them waiting more than four hours to be seen.
Meanwhile in November, the last full month for which figures were available, the number of patients treated by A&E at Charing Cross Hospital was 3,712 – an increase of almost a third on the figure from the same month two years previously.
At the same time, the A&E department at sister hospital St Mary’s is struggling to cope with existing demand – with almost half of adult patients there waiting more than four hours to be seen.
“These pressures have been greatly increased by the great mistake of shutting A&E at Hammersmith Hospital,” added Cllr Cowan.
“Local people are suffering, and being forced to wait unacceptable amounts to time, as dedicated hospital staff do their best in the face of these cuts.”
A recent BBC documentary, Hospital, revealed the harsh realities of day to day life at St Mary’s with trolley waits, cancelled surgery, and real life or death decisions being forced on staff.
As part of the proposed local NHS Shaping a Healthier Future programme, patients would be diverted to ‘out-of-hospital’ care so Charing Cross can be downgraded to a ‘local’ hospital.
This means shutting the A&E and replacing it with an Urgent Care Centre on just a fraction of the current site, with most emergency cases diverted to the already overloaded St Mary’s.
When H&F Council asked about the impact of rising demand from patients on Charing Cross, an Imperial College Healthcare NHS Trust spokesman said: “Despite our efforts, this is having an impact on how quickly we can see and treat patients and on our capacity for planned care.”
As a result, hospital chiefs have now been forced to extend the A&E department at Charing Cross to include a new 13-space acute assessment unit from January, as well as a new 35-bed acute admissions ward.