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Wednesday, 30 October 2013

Only a stay of execution for the A&E departments at Ealing and Charing Cross hospitals?

Earlier today the Secretary of state for Health, Jeremy Hunt, made an announcement about the changes in provision at many local hospitals including Ealing, Charing Cross, Central Middlesex and Hammersmith.

Central Middlesex and Hammersmith will no longer have A&E services. Ealing and Charing Cross hospitals would remain open but the A&E wards would stay in the short term with changes to the 'size and shape' of services. There is a period of time where the current arrangements are to be reviewed but the details of this review were not mentioned.

Jon Ball (right) unimpressed with Jeremy Hunt
Councillor Jon Ball, Liberal Democrat parliamentary candidate, said earlier: “I welcome the stay of execution for the A&E departments at Ealing and Charing Cross that Jeremy Hunt has announced today following a huge campaign from local residents and politicians of all parties. However, in addition to the disappointment about the downgrades at Central Middlesex and Hammersmith, this announcement raises more questions than it answers."

Jon Ball added: "Jeremy Hunt needs to spell out what the 'changes to the services' he mentioned in his statement are and the length of his commitment that the A&E departments will remain open before there will be any champagne corks popping in Ealing."

To me, the announcement may appear good but beneath the water potentially lies a shark waiting to attack us. For example with no maternity unit and a growing birth rate it means that people will be travelling further not just to give birth but to visit family and friends.

We also do not know what might happen after this future review. It could mean that they are closed or stay in a form that is not an A&E that any of us would recognise.

It was great for the campaign to be supported by so many tens of thousands of residents who either signed the petition or attended rallies. I said a long time ago that it would have been sensible for the Council, the Secretary of State, doctors and patients' respresentatives to all sit down and discuss things. What we have not is more uncertainty and tax payers money not being spent on providing for our health service.

This campaign needs to go on...

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