Latest NHS figures show the number of people needing emergency treatment at Charing Cross Hospital’s A&E is on the rise.

Hospital chiefs at Imperial College Healthcare NHS Trust have released figures showing the increased demand for the hospital’s emergency department last summer.

The statistics showed a big increase in usage since the A&E department at Hammersmith Hospital was shut in September 2014 as part of the contentious Shaping a Healthier Future (SaHF) programme.

Campaign groups claim that plans are underway to downgrade the A&E department at Charing Cross Hospital.

From July to September 2016, the new data shows that compared to last year:

  • The most serious (Type 1) of A&E visits are up 12.5%
  • Overall A&E visits are up by 7.9%
  • The number of patients arriving at A&E by ambulance is up by 7.7%

The figures come ahead of the annual winter spike and flu season, and as the A&E department was extended with a new 13-space acute assessment, as well as a new 35-bed acute admissions ward.

There has been a 35% increase in A&E patients at the Fulham Palace Road hospital since Hammersmith Hospital lost its A&E.

A spokesperson for Imperial told getwestlondon that the NHS Trust was facing similar pressures to other A&Es across the country.

Vanessa Redgrave hits out at A&E closures

Hammersmith and Fulham Council is one of several Labour-run local authorities in west London fighting the SaHF plans.

It commissioned an Independent Healthcare Report put together by Michael Mansfield QC which labelled SaHF “flawed” and called for its immediate halting.

Council leader Stephen Cowan said: “The plan to close the A&E at Charing Cross is foolish.

"These figures show how vital it is to the growing population of west London.

Charing Cross Hospital in Fulham Palace Road, Hammersmith

“Shutting the A&E Hammersmith Hospital was a mistake and contributes to the pressure.

"And unfortunately patients and local residents are suffering as a result.

"As the Mansfield Commission report made clear the planned A&E closures would be dangerous and should be abandoned.”

The extra numbers were also placing more pressure on not only Charing Cross’ A&E, it has been said.

Imperial reported it missed its October target for the speed in which A&E patients were seen, with 87% treated under four hours - well below the 95% target.

At St Mary’s Hospital, the figure was lower, at 79%.

'Plain irresponsible'

Merril Hammer, chairman of the Save Our Hospital Group, said: “A key problem is that there are just not enough beds.

"Bed occupancy is at record levels – well above what’s recommended.

"To talk about closing Charing Cross as an acute hospital is just plain irresponsible.”

According Hammersmith and Fulham Council, the SaHF programme would see patients diverted to "out-of-hospital" care so Charing Cross can be downgraded to a "local" hospital.

“This means shutting the A&E and replacing it with an Urgent Care Centre on just a fraction of the current site, with most emergency cases diverted to St Mary’s,” a spokesman claimed.

When Hammersmith and Fulham Council asked about the impact of rising demand from patients on Charing Cross, an Imperial College Healthcare NHS Trust spokesman said: “Despite our efforts, this is having an impact on how quickly we can see and treat patients and on our capacity for planned care.”

A spokesman for Imperial College Healthcare NHS Trust said: “Unfortunately, there are very similar pressures in A&E departments across England.

"The causes are complex and include increasing demand as well as challenges in discharging patients who have completed their hospital treatment but need ongoing care and support at home or in the community.

“We recently gave a public reassurance that there will be no reduction in Charing Cross Hospital’s A&E unless and until we are able to reduce demand through out-of-hospital services, and that any plans must be developed with local communities.

“With the support of Imperial College Healthcare Charity, we are currently making significant improvements to a range of facilities at Charing Cross, including A&E, acute medicine, outpatients and theatres.”

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