Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt has been urged to act now over the “spiralling” costs of contentious health care reforms.
Hammersmith and Fulham Council leader Stephen Cowan says the money needed to deliver the controversial Shaping a Healthier Future (SaHF) programme is rising with each day that passes and has called for Conservative cabinet member to meet him and other who oppose the plans.
Reports claim the cost of delivering the programme, which has already led to the closures of A&E departments at Hammersmith and Central Middlesex Hospitals, the maternity unit at Ealing Hospital and concerns over emergency care provided at Charing Cross Hospital, has risen by more than 1,000% - from £112 million in 2012 to £1.3 billion now.
Last year, a report led by Michael Mansfield QC and commissioned by five Labour-run councils found SaHF to be “deeply flawed” .
It called for the reopening of the closed A&E units and urged Charing Cross and Ealing to retain full services for the foreseeable future. The Independent Healthcare Commission also suggested legal challenges may be necessary to halt the NHS’ SaHF programme,
But some criticised the findings, claiming a commission set up by five councils opposed to the SaHF was not independent.
Cllr Cowan and the leaders of the four other boroughs who commissioned the report - Hounslow, Ealing, Brent and Harrow - have written to Mr Hunt urging he meet with them to discuss the report and its recommendations.
He said: “Michael Mansfield’s superb independent report drove a coach and horses through the plans to close Charing Cross Hospital, and called for an immediate stop to the process.
“But as each day passes without a halt, we are seeing costs soar to eye-watering levels, with current estimates putting the price of this scheme at £1.3 billion.
“As Secretary of State, Jeremy Hunt has the power to call a halt to these dangerous changes before any further damage is done – or any more money wasted.
“I am hopeful that, when confronted with the impact these plans will have and their massive cost, he will see sense and act. That’s why I have called on him to get round the table with me and other local council leaders to hammer out a sensible way forward.”
The Department of Health confirmed a letter had been received with a response due to be sent in due course.