Hundreds of people crammed into Hammersmith Town Hall and pledged to fight new NHS proposals they believe will force the closure of Ealing and Charing Cross Hospitals.
Health services in the north west of London are already stretched after Shaping a Healthier Future (SaHF) plans resulted in the closure of Hammersmith and Central Middlesex Hospitals’ A&E departments.
Ealing has also lost its children's ward.
There are now fears that following the threat of legal challenges against SaHF that a new plan is under way to force through the changes - the North West London Sustainability and Transformation Plan (STP).
Indeed, a statement on Charing Cross by the Imperial College Healthcare NHS Trust aimed at reassuring members of the public appeared to suggest the future of the hospital could not be guaranteed beyond the next five years.
Posted on Monday (November 28), one day before the Hammersmith Town Hall meeting, it said: “We want to reassure our staff, patients, local residents and partners that Charing Cross is NOT closing and that there will be NO reduction in the Hospital’s A&E and wider services during the lifetime of the STP, which runs until April 2021.”
getwestlondon at Ealing Hospital as the children's ward closes
The meeting was chaired by Hammersmith and Fulham Council’s Vivienne Lukey, cabinet member for health and adult social care.
Imperial said the STP brings together and co-ordinates the priorities and plans of health and social care organisations across north west London.
But Hammersmith and Fulham Council argues the STP has the demolition of Charing Cross Hospital, and the sale of much of its site, as a key part of its scheme.
Roger Steer, co-author of the Healthcare Audit’s review, argued NHS had grown frustrated that its SaHF plans had been hampered by community opposition and that STP was “about removing the local veto”.
“It’s SaHF repackaged with no pretence about planning for local people in the long term," he said.
“It will see the closure of almost 600 beds starting in Ealing and coming for Charing Cross.”
Fulham GP Federation chairman, Dr David Wingfield, outlined the beginning of an alternative plan, lead by the community, working with councils and hospital trusts.
Ealing leader, Julian Bell, called the STP “SaHF dressed up in different clothes”.
He said: “It is clear as day Ealing and Charing Cross were in the firing line.
"We were never going to sign up to that.”
Leader of Hammersmith and Fulham, Stephen Cowan added: “What we are going to do is fight to save our hospitals.”
In its statement on Charing Cross, Imperial NHS Trust says the hospital “would retain a 24/7 A&E appropriate to a local hospital”.
The statement said: “There is a clear commitment in the STP that ‘there will be no substantive changes to A&E in Hammersmith and Fulham until such time as any reduced acute capacity has been adequately replaced by out-of-hospital provision’.
“The STP, which covers the period up until April 2021, does not include the implementation of plans for Charing Cross to become a local hospital or any reduction in its capacity.”
At a meeting held on November 22, Hounslow Council passed a motion tabled by the administration to reaffirm its support for acute services including A&E to remain at both Ealing Hospital and Charing Cross Hospital.
Earier in the year stage and screen icon Vanessa Redgrave spoke passionately about saving Charing Cross Hospital.
Oscare-winning actress Vanessa Redgrave speaks in defence of Charing Cross Hospital
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