IN RESPONSE to Dan Coombs's article, 'Moves to close A&E denied by London NHS' (Gazette, February 17), the article refers to a leaked document about the restructure of services in the North West London Health Authority, and the closure of A&E departments, with the possibility of Hillingdon Hospital's A&E being one of them.
It states that a spokesperson said there are no firm plans to change hospital services in north-west London at present.
The Healthcare for London consultation, called The Shape of Things to Come, clearly indicates there are plans to change hospital services.
An NHS website confirms that a joint committee of primary care trusts (JCPCT) met in public on July 20, 2009 to consider clinical evidence, and the responses to The Shape of Things to Come.
The JCPCT has agreed to introduce new, specialist services for stroke and major trauma patients.
It is interesting to note that Hillingdon Hospital does not feature as one of the new specialist centres. There will be four major trauma centres (MTCs) to treat the most seriously injured patients, located in Whitechapel, Denmark Hill, Tooting and Paddington. The first three are expected to open by April 2010 and the Paddington centre by April 2012.
It is said that all Londoners will be within 45 minutes of an ambulance journey to an MTC. The nearest for Hillingdon residents will be Paddington! Is a transfer time of 45 minutes realistic?
Were there a major incident at Heathrow Airport, where would casualties be taken, Paddington or St Peter's, Chertsey? Surely there should a major trauma centre at Hillingdon Hospital?
Eight hyper-acute stroke centres will provide specialist care, within 30 minutes, to patients following a stroke, after which they will be transferred to one of 24 local stroke units to continue their recovery.
The existing stroke unit at Hillingdon will not be developed as a hyper-acute unit. The nearest options for Hillingdon residents would be Charing Cross and Northwick Park. Is a transfer time of 30 minutes realistic?
In view of decisions that have been made about the new specialist centres, and the proposed development of the polysystem, it begs the question, will it be financially viable to maintain the A&E facility at Hillingdon Hospital?
With the new centres and the polysystem there is likely to be a gradual reduction and displacement of services from Hillingdon A&E, which could one day see it close.
It is at this early stage that we should remain vigilant and make our voices heard to ensure it does not close.
Please lobby your NHS trust, your MP and councillors. Make sure you are informed and attend Hillingdon PCT, Patient in Partnership and Link meetings.
Use the internet to access information and get involved. Be ready for the next consultation, planned for autumn this year.
ARMELLE THOMAS EILISH STONE Harmondsworth