HEALTH bosses have been warned to expect a community backlash after plans to shut the accident and emergency department at Charing Cross Hospital were confirmed.
Fears that the Fulham Palace Road hospital would lose its A&E have been rife ever since NHS North West London announced its plans to streamline its nine hospitals.
The service, which cares for 1.9m residents, only wants five A&E departments in the region and has decided that Charing Cross and Hammersmith Hospital, in Shepherd's Bush, can lose the service.
Their preferred option sees the two downgraded alongside Ealing and Central Middlesex with the five A&E departments located at Northwick Park, Hillingdon, Chelsea & Westminster, St Mary's and Central Middlesex Hospitals.
In April, health chiefs admitted it could take up to 53 minutes for patients in H&F to get to their nearest A&E department under the shake-up.
And Hammersmith and Fulham Council - which has set up an online petition against the plans here - blasted them as 'madness' and vowed to fight NHS North West London all the way when they launch a public consultation on July 2.
Councillor Marcus Ginn, community care leader, said: “"We have been warning of the threat to Charing Cross hospital for many months and this confirms out worst fears.
"Over many months of questioning on this, NHS bureaucrats have failed to address concerns that this will leave thousands of residents dangerously distant from emergency care or to show that lives will not be put at risk by these closures.
"We will be fighting tooth and nail to save Charing Cross – the public are not going to accept this plan quietly, especially when the case for stripping all the major service out of such a well loved and respected centre of excellence is not supported by evidence.
"We think it is madness that they are have not taken account of the fact that only Charing Cross has the space for expansion and the public transport links that a major hospital requires.
"They have not taken account of the thousands on new homes being built in west London which will mean we need more local access to hospitals, not less.
"We have warned them not to go down this path. The public reaction is going to be immense."
NHS North West London, which is trying to plug a £1.8bn deficit, insist the changes will improve the service and care received by patients.
Anne Rainsberry, NHS NW London chief executive, said: “The main proposal is to transform the care provided in local communities. More care should be delivered closer to home. And by also centralising some specialist hospital-based services, the NHS can ensure that people can benefit from receiving treatment at centres of best practice and excellence.
“This isn't about cutting corners or getting by with the bare minimum. We want to change the way we deliver care so that outcomes are improved, both in terms of clinical outcomes and patient and staff experiences.
“We've used robust clinical evidence to set targets, and clinicians have set out the standards by which we can measure our performance against them.”
The closure plans need to be approved by NHS North West London at a meeting on Monday before the 14-week consultation is launched.
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