Happy 70th birthday, NHS. Now save our hospital!

Hammersmith & Fulham Council has called on local health bosses to drop plans that threaten Charing Cross Hospital – exactly 70 years after the NHS was founded.

“The best present for H&F residents on the NHS’s 70th birthday would be to save Charing Cross Hospital by ditching the flawed ‘Shaping a Healthier Future’ plans,” said Cllr Stephen Cowan, Leader of H&F Council.

The NHS officially turns 70 on Thursday (5 July), entering its eighth decade of providing life-saving treatment and keeping local residents healthy.

The council is spearheading the campaign to save the hospital and preserve its A&E and other world-class facilities.

Under threat

The 'Shaping a Healthier Future' plans released in 2013 still threaten Charing Cross Hospital with being downgraded and the majority of the hospital's Fulham Palace Road site sold off for private development.

“As long as these plans remain on the table, Charing Cross is in danger,” added Cllr Cowan. “The NHS was built in post-war austerity by people who had a vision of a better world. Seventy years on, we need health bosses to show some of that vision and boldness now by ditching ‘Shaping a Healthier Future’ and saving Charing Cross.”

H&F’s appeal is supported by the independent Save Our Hospitals campaign group, which has worked closely with the council for several years to keep the A&E and other services open at Charing Cross.

“Like the council, we are calling on local health bosses, the CCG and Imperial Hospital Trust, to withdraw the dated and destructive plans to close Charing Cross as a major acute hospital,” said Merril Hammer, secretary of the independent Save Our Hospitals group.

“Imperial is having to spend £7.2m of its charity funds to update facilities at Charing Cross A&E because, like other A&Es in north and west London, it cannot cope with demand,” she said. “We need our hospitals and we need our NHS as a publicly funded and provided health service.”

Save Our Hospitals will be celebrating the 70th Birthday of the NHS with a party outside Charing Cross Hospital, from 12-2pm, on 5 July.

What is ‘Shaping a Healthier Future’?

In 2013, the ‘Shaping a Healthier Future’ plan was signed off by the Secretary of State for Health, Jeremy Hunt. It is gradually being implemented across north and west London and has already led to the closure of the A&E at Hammersmith Hospital.

The ‘Shaping a Healthier Future’ plans include:

  • Demolishing the current Charing Cross Hospital and selling off most of the site
  • Replacing the current Charing Cross Hospital with a series of clinics on a site no more than 13 per cent the size of the current hospital and rebranding these clinics as a ‘local hospital’
  • Replacing the current A&E with an urgent care clinic
  • Losing more than 300 – and possibly all – of the acute care beds.

In 2014, H&F Council took the lead in organising a public inquiry into ‘Shaping a Healthier Future’.

The Independent Healthcare Commission for North West London – led by esteemed barrister Michael Mansfield QC – concluded that the plans did not properly calculate the level of demand for the hospital and raised a series of other concerns. The commission concluded that the plans should be halted immediately.

You can read the commission’s full report here: www.lbhf.gov.uk/commission.

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