Our local hospitals
Cllr Stephen Cowan, Leader of Hammersmith & Fulham
2 June 2023
I was struck by Tuesday evening’s BBC London News report which was about the future of Charing Cross and Hammersmith hospitals. It came off the back of last week’s government announcement that it had binned its commitment to complete a “floor by floor” refurbishment of Charing Cross by 2030.
“It’s no secret”, the reporter said, “[the hospitals] need a bit of a refurb” before setting out the differences between what Imperial College Healthcare NHS Trust says is happening with the statement given to Parliament by the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care.
It is disappointing that the much-needed modernisation at both facilities cannot proceed as planned. We know, particularly after Covid, how much residents value the expert care they receive there from some of the world’s leading medical professionals.
They and the vital support staff need the best environment possible to ensure we are all kept well and receive the treatment we need. It is fundamental to the ethos of our brilliant NHS.
Making the case for these hospitals brings back memories of the long campaign the council and the community ran for so many years to save Charing Cross Hospital.
It finally ended in victory on 26 March 2019 – six years after the launch of the ironically-titled Shaping a Healthier Future plan, which detailed the closure of Charing Cross Hospital. It was the biggest hospitals closure programme in London’s history. We commissioned a public inquiry led by Michael Mansfield QC that provided the evidence showing the error of the proposals which were ultimately dropped.
It is with a heavy heart that we have to now resume making the case for our local healthcare system when it is so let down. It is an all too horribly familiar experience.
If the pandemic taught us one thing, it must surely be that we should value even more highly our NHS which bore the brunt of its ghastly effect.
At H&F, we will always stand up for our residents when they face harm to their health and welfare.
That is why we and our colleagues at the Imperial Trust are seeking urgent clarification on the recent statements to ensure our local hospitals get the investment they were promised so we can all benefit from the brilliant care there when we need it.
In the media
- BBC News: Hospital works yet to start despite claim - Trust (1 June 2023)
- BBC London report on local hospitals (YouTube, 30 May 2023)
ICH NHS Trust’s briefing to the H&F Wellbeing Board on 28 June 2023
Charing Cross Hospital archive
Government abandons Charing Cross closure plan
We did it together! The government has finally been forced to retreat on closing Charing Cross Hospital.
Read our letter to residents and download a poster for your window.
- Charing Cross letter to residents April 2019 (pdf 123KB)
- We saved Charing Cross Hospital (poster) (pdf 22KB)
Thanks to Save Our Hospitals campaigners, Michael Mansfield QC (who ran the independent commission that provided such unchallengable evidence against the plans) and to the many, many residents who have fought with us so hard and for so long.
Council Leader, Cllr Stephen Cowan, says: "This is a huge validation of Michael Mansfield QC's findings and a huge victory for the Save Our Hospitals campaign. Thank you to all the residents who worked with us to save Charing Cross Hospital."
Statement from North West London CCG on 26 March 2019:
We will not be taking forward the plans as set out in SaHF for changes to Ealing and Charing Cross hospitals."
Video: H&F thanks campaigners and local residents
What was planned?
We've won the battle to save Charing Cross Hospital from proposals to demolish most of it and replace its A&E with an urgent care clinic – leaving just 13 per cent the size of the original hospital.
- we joined forces with local residents and with Ealing Council, who have been fighting the closure of Ealing Hospital
- we commissioned a public inquiry led by Michael Mansfield QC that has provided a strong evidence base for why the proposals are wrong. Read the Independent Healthcare Commission report for north west London (pdf 819KB)
- we refused to sign the ‘North West London STP’ – because it restates the plan to reduce acute services from nine major hospitals to five
- we commissioned a review of the NHS proposals and the STP – read the Shaping a healthier Future review (pdf 4MB)
- we held scrutiny meetings to publicly quiz NHS managers on their plans
- we invited local people to public meetings, rallies and demonstrations
- we presented petitions and published individual residents' own experiences and stories
- we kept local people updated on the campaign through letters, leaflets, posters and social media.
The current much-loved Charing Cross Hospital was to be replaced with an urgent care centre, diagnostics and out-patients only.
The NHS plan included:
- demolishing the current Charing Cross Hospital and selling off most 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
- replacing the current A&E with an urgent care clinic
- losing more than 300 and possibly all the acute care beds
- the detail on the proposals is in the NHS Case for Change (pdf 1.7MB).
Here is the detailed reconfiguration that the NHS consulted local people on in 2012. Option A, the one linked below, was the option they agreed, including the closure of the A&E department. They have since tried to redefine the existing urgent care centre as ‘an A&E appropriate for a local hospital’.
- NHS proposals Option A, published in 2013 (pdf 3.4MB)
- NHS consultation document from 2012 (pdf 6.9MB)
- Videos, public meeting report and hospital performance data
Video: Save Charing Cross Hospital video
Huge public support as council refuses to sign up to hospital closure
The decision by Hammersmith & Fulham Council to refuse ‘secretive’ hospital closure plans was backed by hundreds at a packed town hall meeting on 29 November 2016.
Nearly 700 cheered and applauded Cllr Stephen Cowan, Leader of Hammersmith & Fulham Council, as he explained why he has refused to sign up to the local NHS Sustainability and Transformation Plan (STP). Councils across the UK have been asked to endorse similar plans for each region of the NHS, before they are submitted to government for approval.
“The STP is a deeply cynical re-hash of the earlier flawed plans which now proposes to close Charing Cross Hospital in 2021,” said Cllr Cowan.
“There are no good arguments for demolishing Charing Cross or for selling off much of the land and replacing it with an urgent care clinic just 13 per cent the size of the hospital. That’s why this administration will continue its fierce defence of Charing Cross and the vital local NHS services people rely on.”
Video: Cllr Cowan speaking at the town hall meeting
The meeting drew campaigners from across the region who have been fighting plans to close or downgrade services at five out of the nine hospitals in north west London.
Anne Drinkell, of the Save our Hospitals campaign, said: “This is a cuts and closures programme. We’re not saying we want no change. But objectively there’s already not enough capacity in our local hospital so closing more services would be unsafe.”
Campaigners were united in condemning the tactics being used to force through drastic reductions in local health services secretively and without public consultation.
The NHS has pressured councils to approve STPs by linking it to the release of vital government cash needed to keep councils’ social care services from collapsing under ever-rising demand.
Dr David Wingfield, chairman of the Hammersmith and Fulham GP Federation, suggested the STP was not equipped to tackle the health and social care problems facing the borough. He offered to form a ‘grand alliance’ between GPs, councillors and members of the community to confront local healthcare challenges.
Local hospital performance figures
Charing Cross news stories