Last week health secretary Jeremy Hunt pulled out of a long-scheduled meeting with me and other west London MPs about the proposed cuts to hospital services in west London, including the closures of the A&E departments at Charing Cross and Hammersmith hospitals.
As I write he is refusing to meet us, even though we represent almost a million people in seven boroughs, and the closure programme is the biggest in the history of the NHS.
Under current plans there will be no emergency surgery, no blue-light A&E, no stroke unit and no intensive care at Charing Cross. The care centre which remains will be GP not consultant-run, and will only handle minor injuries and treatments. Hammersmith may not even have this.
The final proposals for the hospitals are likely to be published in March, six months late. A range of primary care services and some elective (planned) surgery may now stay on the Charing Cross site, but at least half of it will be sold privately.
At least the NHS is being honest about these plans in discussions and confirm that Charing Cross will be downgraded to a ‘local hospital’ with emergencies referred to St Mary’s, Paddington. But Hammersmith and Fulham’s Conservative council continues to lie about the closures, which it supports, hoping to deceive or confuse residents in the run-up to the council election in May.
Local people who need and rely on our hospitals deserve better that this.