The barrister who represented Stephen Lawrence’s family is chairing an independent commission into the closure of west London A&Es set up by four councils.
Hammersmith and Fulham, Ealing, Hounslow and Brent Councils have banded together to look into the impact closures of emergency services at Hammersmith and Central Middlesex Hospitals are having on patients and neighbouring hospitals.
Michael Mansfield QC, who chaired last year’s inquiry into proposed closures at Lewisham Hospital, will be chairing the independent commission for the four Labour councils who fear lives will be put at risk during the expected spike in demand from winter pressures.
He has represented people in some of the country’s most controversial legal cases, including the family of Jean Charles de Menezes, the Brazilian man shot dead by Met Police at Stockwell station, the family of Stephen Lawrence and families of the Marchioness disaster and the Lockerbie bombing.
Councillor Stephen Cowan, leader of Hammersmith and Fulham Council, said: “A&E closures are already putting dangerous additional pressures on other hospitals and will only get worse if services at Charing Cross are also closed.
“The official figures speak for themselves, but we plan to bring some extra, independent scrutiny to examine what local trusts are doing to our hospital services. An impartial review is needed, free of vested interests, of the real and likely impact of these major hospital re-configurations and the financial reality behind them.”
Other services at Charing Cross and Ealing hospitals are set to change, with the hospital trusts waiting for Sir Bruce Keogh to release a report into what a ‘local hospital’ A&E will entail but the four councils are concerned about the impact of these changes as well.
The inquiry comes after NHS England released figures showing waiting times at nearby hospitals have failed to meet A&E targets since the closure of Hammersmith and Central Middlesex on September 10. This includes St Mary’s in Paddington, Charing Cross in Hammersmith, West Middlesex in Isleworth, Ealing and Northwick Park hospitals.
Councillor Muhammed Butt, leader of Brent Council, said: "Our worst fears, about the effects of closing local A&Es before the expansion of Northwick Park was complete, have come true. Brent residents now face the longest A&E waiting times in the country and immediate action needs to be taken to resolve this situation as we are talking about life and death emergency treatment. West Londoners deserve the best healthcare and this joint review will be vital in shining a light on what has gone on with these botched A&E closures."
The three trusts which govern the west London hospitals - London North West Healthcare NHS Trust, Imperial College Healthcare NHS Trust and West Middlesex University Hospital NHS Trust - have dipped below the national target of 95 per cent of patients being seen within four hours.
Performance at London North West Healthcare NHS Trust, which runs Ealing, Northwick Park and Central Middlesex, fell to 67 per cent, making it the second worst result in the country.
Mr Mansfield will be joined by Dr Stephen Hirst, a retired Chiswick GP and John Lister, researcher on the People’s Inquiry into London’s NHS in 2012 and a senior lecturer in journalism at Coventry University. Time Rideout, former chief executive at Leicester City Primary Care Trust, will be writing the report on the commission’s findings.