Hospital trusts in the firing line of an inquiry by four councils over A&E closures have said they welcome the scrutiny.
Hammersmith and Fulham, Ealing, Hounslow and Brent councils announced yesterday (December 1) they have launched an independent commission to look into the impact closures of emergency services at Hammersmith and Central Middlesex Hospitals on September 10 are having on patients and neighbouring hospitals.
Barrister Michael Mansfield, who represented Stephen Lawrence’s family and chaired last year’s inquiry into proposed closures at Lewisham Hospital, will be chairing the commission for the four Labour councils.
The three NHS trusts which govern the seven affected hospitals - London North West Healthcare NHS Trust, Imperial College Healthcare NHS Trust and West Middlesex University Hospital NHS Trust - have been under increasing scrutiny since decisions under the Shaping a Healthier Future programme were made to close the two A&Es and patients told to go to other hospitals as part of an integrated system where hospitals specialise in different services.
A spokeswoman for the north west London collaboration of clinical commissioning groups (CCGs) for all the affected hospitals said: “We know how important the local NHS is - that’s why we are undertaking this clinically led, long term, programme of work to improve healthcare access and quality for local residents. The changes being made in north west London are not made lightly and are the result of significant public consultation, extensive planning and an in-depth assurance process. As such we welcome any constructive input that will help residents further.”
Changes to Ealing Hospital and Charing Cross Hospital in Hammersmith are still to come but no concrete decisions have been made so the council-led inquiry will look into this as well.
One of the trusts which has come under particular scrutiny is Imperial College Healthcare NHS Trust which runs Hammersmith, Charing Cross, St Mary’s Paddington and the Western Eye Hospital.
They also emphasised how integral it is for them to work closely with the community they serve.
A spokeswoman from Imperial said: “It is very important to us to work closely with our partners, including patients, local communities and councils and other stakeholders on clarifying what our new models of care should look like in order to meet changing healthcare needs. To this end, we welcome any constructive involvement with our partners.”
A 23-strong delegation of north west London clinicians, health officials and patient representatives was a woman down as they headed to America on Saturday for a study tour after Dr Tracey Batten, Imperial’s CEO, pulled out at the last minute due to an uproar from patients and politicians.