A long-serving GP from Fulham has spoken out against the downgrading of the A&E department at Charing Cross Hospital.
He said: “I have been a GP in Fulham from 1987 to 2015 and have a pretty good knowledge of what is needed in terms of local medical services.
"The [planned] downgrade of Charing Cross and the rebuild of a token small medical service to try and keep people happy is nothing short of a dangerous disgrace.
“I have known so many instances of Chelsea and Westminster Hospital being totally unable to cope with emergencies and in admitting patients. So to lop off a large hospital like Charing Cross is madness. I’m disgusted.”
The hospital is part of the Imperial College Healthcare NHS Trust, and it said there were no plans to axe the A&E. A spokesperson said Charing Cross is to receive a £150 million investment under plans which would see it retain a 24/7 A&E department.
The council received Dr Evans' comment - and many others - after publicising the grilling of health bosses at the final public hearing of the North West London Healthcare Commission – an independent coalition of Harrow, Brent, Hammersmith & Fulham, Ealing and Hounslow councils examining the NHS’s controversial Shaping a Healthier Future (SaHF) programme.
The programme has already resulted in the closure of A&E services at Central Middlesex and Hammersmith Hospitals, and had originally earmarked Charing Cross and Ealing A&Es for closure too, with services centralised in St Mary’s in Paddington.
The Secretary of State later said he wanted to see the A&Es remain in some shape and size, but could not give further details. David Cameron also insisted they will remain.
It has resulted in many still believing the A&Es will close, or reduced significantly in size.
A spokesperson for the NHS Trust said a five-year clinical strategy plan was being implemented to make changes to reflect the shifting demographic, which was resulting in investment for Charing Cross: “Implementing our clinical strategy will require a major £660million investment in the re-development of our sites, primarily at Charing Cross Hospital and St Mary’s Hospital.
“At Charing Cross Hospital, we’ve proposed a £150 million investment in its redevelopment as a new type of local hospital, offering a wide range of specialist, planned care as well as integrated care and rehabilitation services for older people and those with long-term conditions plus a 24 hour/7 day a week A&E service appropriate to a local hospital.”
Other letters written to the council including one from Geoffrey Castle, who wrote: “Whoever thinks that closing Charing Cross Hospital A&E is a good idea must be totally bonkers!
“The cost of building a new ‘fit for purpose’ hospital facility to replace the current one would greatly outweigh any short-term financial benefit gained by selling off the land.”
Ron Williams wrote: “I had to go to St Mary’s Hospital [recently] – the place is old dirty and every department is all over the place. You have to go miles round if you are disabled because of stairs everywhere. This hospital is not a touch on Charing Cross Hospital and the move is down-right ridiculous.”
Others fear the burden placed on other hospitals will be too much.
Prue Angus wrote: “Please do not close Charing Cross Hospital. St Mary’s cannot cope with the number of patients now. It will be a nightmare with the influx of many more people in the future.”
And Maggie Hodd added: “Building hundreds, if not thousands, of new homes plus closing A&E units at hospitals equals disaster.”
The NHS Trust spokesperson continued: “In terms of A&E services, we are awaiting further guidance from NHS England on a national strategy to help guide the development of emergency services appropriate for a local hospital, specifically for our new local hospital at Charing Cross. As such, we can confirm that no decisions have been made about the future of A&E services at Charing Cross Hospital and we have no plans to close the A&E department.
The commission’s results are expected to be published during the summer.