Furious protesters gathered outside Ealing Hospital to voice their anger at the closure of its children's ward today (June 30).

Ealing Save Our NHS protest group led a rally of more than 50 people from 12.30pm as the Southall hospital closed its doors to the Charlie Chaplin ward.

The closure comes under changes led by Shaping a Healthier Future (SaHF), which also closed Ealing Hospital's maternity unit in 2015.

On a hot June afternoon protesters held up banners featuring the words "Shame", "I Love The NHS" and "No Virtual Wards".

Drivers beeped their car horns as the crowd cheered the words "Save Our NHS" and saw speeches from Ealing Council leader Julian Bell, Virendra Sharma MP and other protesters.

'We Are Not Paper Dolls'

Desiree Crannenburgh, a nursery nurse, held up the banner saying "We Are Not Paper Dolls. No Virtual Wards" to express her disbelief that the borough will no longer have a children's ward.

She told getwestlondon : "I am here because I am concerned about the families who need the hospital ward.

"The NHS should be local for everyone, especially for children."

The ward has 16 beds, including four day assessment beds, and cares for 10 to 12 children at any one time for those requiring emergency treatment or an overnight stay in hospital.

Under changes by SaHF, launched by a series of CCG's in 2012, ambulances will no longer take children to the A & E unit at the Uxbridge Road hospital.

Instead children will be taken to West Middlesex , Hillingdon , Northwick Park , Chelsea and Westminister or St Mary's hospitals depending on the child's emergency care needs.

Video thumbnail, Virendra Sharma
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Ealing CCG claims that the changes will improve the quality of care across North West London Hospitals because they said there will be a higher number of specialist senior doctors available.

Children who come to Ealing Hospital will be taken to a different hospital by car, patient transport or ambulance - which Ealing CCG has admitted will increase travel time.

The 24/7 Urgent Care Centre (UCC) will continue to treat children, and those requiring day care and outpatient care will be seen at the hospital as normal.

'I am deeply disturbed'

Cllr Bell told getwestlondon: "Tory Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt stood up in Parliament and said that Ealing would have an A&E.

"We now know this was a lie as far as our Children's A&E is concerned.

"As a grandfather I am deeply disturbed by this betrayal of the needs of all our children in the Borough.

"Their lives will be put at risk and the significant distances children will have to travel to receive emergency treatment are very worrying".

A nurse also led a speech as she told the crowd: "Just because you don't see or here people they are there and they are in need".

And the day also saw Cllr Aysha Raza, who represents Greenford Green, donning a white "I Love The NHS T-shirt".

SaHF have faced intense criticism for their reforms, with an Independent Healthcare Commission report, led by Michael Mansfield QC, calling for an "immediate halt" .

And in April, MPs in west London wrote to the government to demand an investigation.