Hammersmith & Fulham Council has joined forces with neighbouring Ealing Council to defend our local hospitals.
At a meeting on Wednesday night, at Ealing Town Hall, the leaders of the two councils were joined by other leading figures campaigning to safeguard our services, and fight plans to downgrade the A&E departments at Charing Cross and Ealing Hospitals.
Cllr Stephen Cowan, Hammersmith & Fulham Council Leader, told the meeting: “Who believed, at any point in the last 20 years, we might see newspaper headlines across all our national media united on one issue: our NHS is in crisis.
“And our NHS is under attack. This is not about a clinical assessment of what is needed; this is about the slow undoing of our National Health Service.”
Cllr Julian Bell, Ealing Council Leader, said: “Axing two more A&Es in this area is a terrifying prospect.
“Our remaining A&Es are already creaking under the strain of increasing demand, so stripping out a further 500 acute beds is unsafe and must be stopped. Moving A&Es further away from our residents makes no sense.”
The meeting comes as the local NHS having suffered its worst ever January, according to national figures.
While locally released figures showed that in November and December the hospital's emergency department received between a quarter and a third more patients than the same months two years ago, waiting times have soared.
“There is real reason for concern about the plan to downgrade A&E at Charing Cross,” Cllr Cowan added.
“With demand soaring, and the existing resources struggling to cope, it is both foolish and dangerous to remove vital capacity in the system.”
Demand for A&E services at Charing Cross was up 29 per cent in November, and up 27 per cent in December, based on the same months two year ago.
During the second week in January, more than 350 people waited more than four hours in A&E at the hospital.
Researchers at Health Service Journal, an influential publication reporting on the NHS, recently drew-up a list of 24 A&E departments presently under threat – one in six, UK wide.
We asked local people what they thought of plans to downgrade A&E at Charing Cross, and this is what why told us.
Tony Giacomin, 59, of Fulham Palace Road, said:
“It is terrible that they are thinking of downgrading the hospital. We need more hospitals. You would not think that in London in the year 2017 there would be talk of reducing hospital facilities when more people are coming to our city all the time. Waiting times in A&E are always going up so something needs to be done to deal with the amount of people Charing Cross has to take care of.”
And Maria Lozica, 35, of Fulham Road, said:
“I am appalled that the NHS are even thinking of downgrading Charing Cross. It is a complete outrage. I heard there was even talk of demolishing the hospital which seems bizarre. Rather than knocking down a hospital they should be pouring money into the hospital to make the necessary improvements to bring it up-to-date.”