Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt continues to dodge questions about his plans for Hammersmith & Fulham’s hospitals.
Recently in the House of Commons I asked him to keep his promise not to close Hammersmith Hospital A&E until there was spare capacity in neighbouring hospitals and primary care services to cope. I wrote about that exchange here. Last week I tried again when Hunt was forced to come to the Commons to answer Andy Burnham’s Urgent Question on patient safety.
"I want to ask about the safety of the 22,000 patients who use Hammersmith Hospital A&E every year. There is no capacity or increase in the acute primary or community care services locally, which the Secretary of State set as a prerequisite for any A&E closures in west London. Will he ask Imperial Healthcare Trust to review plans to close the A&E at Hammersmith. Will he answer that question, as my constituents in Shepherds Bush and White City deserve an answer to it, and not the spin and the game playing that I always get from the Secretary of State?"
Once again he did not even attempt to address the question. Hunt said when announcing the closure 30 October 2013 it would only close when practicable, i.e. that alternative services were in place. We oppose the closure but thought at least he would honour this commitment. But Imperial at their last board meeting conceded there were already too few beds at St Mary’s – where all Hammersmith patients will be told to go – and the primary care budgets for H&F are actually being cut as money is moved from inner to outer London.
The Fulham Gazette got the same evasive response when they door-stepped Hunt and asked him about the closure of Charing Cross’ A&E. It is clear I am going to have to keep asking.
Last week we celebrated the 66th birthday of the NHS. Under Hunt & Cameron, its very future is in jeopardy.