IT IS crunch time in the fight to save A&Es in Ealing and surrounding boroughs according to campaigners who say they 'desperately' need people's help for the final push.
Health secretary Jeremy Hunt has referred plans to close four casualty departments, in Ealing, Central Middlesex, Charing Cross and Hammersmith hospitals to an independent panel.
It comes after Ealing Council referred the decision by NHS North West London to the government.
Council leader Julian Bell is calling on residents to write to the Independent Reconfiguration Panel and is planning to hold public meetings in Ealing Town Hall and the Dominion Centre in Southall.
He said: “This is the crucial part. We’re coming to the crunch now. We need people to write letters and not just people who have engaged before (with the NHS consultation).
“The stakes have got higher with the news that A&Es across the country are under pressure. It now seems even crazier that they’re planning to shut four out of nine A&Es in north west London. We’re fighting for our A&Es, for our lives and we desperately need your help.”
The plans are reliant on improvements to primary care helping less people going to hospital but campaigners are skeptical they will be achieved.
Central Ealing and Acton MP Angie Bray questioned Mr Hunt in the House of Commons to seek assurance the panel would look at the combined impact closing four A&Es in one area would have on neighbouring casualty departments.
In response he said looking at this was ‘extremely important’ and added: “I will not authorise any changes in service provision unless I am satisfied that they will be consistent with improved patient safety.”
Ms Bray said: "Closing the four A&Es closest to my constituency would be knocking out a massive piece of infrastructure and I think it’s important that it can be demonstrated that this will be properly thought through."
Health chiefs say the changes will save lives as well as money, needed to maintain the health of an ageing population and pay for advances in medical treatment.
They say improved care would come with more patients being cared for in the community and the centralised, specialised care provided by the remaining major hospitals.
Contact the panel on 020 7389 8046, firstname.lastname@example.org or Independent Reconfiguration Panel, 6th floor, 157-197 Buckingham Palace Road London, SW1W 9SP.
Visit Ealing Council’s website www.ealing.gov.uk/soh for more information.