Health secretary Jeremy Hunt announced today that A&Es will remain but in a different shape or size at Ealing and Charing Cross hospitals.

Hammersmith and Fulham Council has declared the news as an ‘enormous relief’ for the borough but Ealing Council leader Julian Bell remained sceptical about the extent of care at Ealing Hospital.

During the announcement at the House of Commons this afternoon, Mr Hunt also confirmed that emergency departments would close fully at Central Middlesex and Hammersmith hospitals following an earlier decision by NHS North West London.

Mr Hunt said A&Es at Ealing and Charing Cross would be saved, but was unable to give a clinical definition of the services. He said he was ‘not going to micro-manage the NHS in terms of saying what precisely the changes at Ealing and Charing Cross will be’.

Mr Bell, who has supported the resident-led Save Our Hospitals campaign, described Mr Hunt's announcement as 'weasel words' and that Ealing would continue to be downgraded to a local hospital.

He added: “What they announced is that there will be five major hospitals in north-west London. Effectively, that means that Ealing, Charing Cross, Central Middlesex and Hammersmith will lose their A&Es and no longer be district general hospitals.

“What I understand the announcement to mean is there will be no blue-light ambulance at Ealing Hospital, it will be an 'Urgent Care Centre Plus' and Ealing will still lose acute services. I don’t think the size and shape of the A&E will be what I and most people understand to be an A&E.”

Ealing Conservative leader, Councillolr David Millican said: "I am delighted that the Health Secretary consulted and listened to the concerns of our residents and saved Ealing and Charing Cross  A&Es. Clearly we need to understand the full details of his proposals and the response from the local Clinical Commissioning Group but our cross-party campaign has worked for the benefit of the borough’s residents.  Overall, this is a more positive outcome than we could have hoped for 12 months ago.”

 

Nick Botterill, Hammersmith and Fulham Council leader, welcomed the news after persuading the NHS to consider an alternative for Charing Cross as a Specialist Health and Social Care Hospital on a smaller portion of the Fulham Palace Road site.

He said: “From our point of view this is an enormous sense of relief because all the way along we engaged with the health authorities and we were always saying that an A&E must be retained at Charing Cross.

“There’s some detail to be seen around it but it an A&E is more than an Urgent Care Centre. We know it will be 24/7 with a range of professionals available.”

Mr Hunt made the announcement after Ealing Council asked him to probe a decision made earlier this year by NHS North West London to close A&Es at the four hospitals. It comes two weeks after Ealing Council lost a bid to take the NHS decision to judicial review.

A spokeswoman from Shaping a Healthier Future, leading the NHS changes, said: “These changes put forward by clinicians have always been about putting patients first and we are pleased this has been recognised. 

“The improvements are needed to modernise the delivery of health care, fit for the 21 century, to deliver much needed care at home and in the community and to concentrate specialised services to provide higher quality teams.”

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