The leader of Ealing Council has insisted the Independent Health Commission will indeed be "independent" despite being set up by four Labour councils.
The claim comes ahead of public meetings, due to be held by the commission, which was set up to examine the impact of the NHS’s decision to reduce hospital services in north-west London.
“We have being saying for more than two years the NHS’s plans for change in our area are completely untested despite being the largest ever proposed. I offer no apology for trying to ensure local people have the best possible health services.
“These eminent experts have been brought together to review the evidence about what is actually happening and to express their opinion.
"People with different political views including the Secretary of State for Health have been invited to participate and share their views so it is untrue to suggest that different perspectives won’t be taken into account. The commissioners are of the highest-calibre and any attack on them should be viewed with the derision it deserves.”
The public meetings will allow people to hear from speakers about changes already made, as well as those planned, to local health services in the largest reorganisation in NHS history.
Changes to be reviewed include the closures of A&Es at Hammersmith and Central Middlesex hospitals in September 2014. It will scrutinise plans to replace Ealing and Charing Cross hospitals with much smaller hospitals, resulting in a significant reduction in acute hospital beds as well as the removal of ‘blue light’ A&E services at both hospitals.
It will also look at the changes to maternity services which will mean women will no longer be able to give birth in Ealing Hospital.
The commission will assess the quality and type of out-of-hospital provision including GP services, which the NHS promised to overhaul prior to hospital services closing.
Barrister Michael Mansfield QC is to head the commission. Mr Mansfield has represented Stephen Lawrence’s family and members of the Hillsborough Family Support group. Dr Stephen Hirst, a retired GP from Chiswick, who has extensive local knowledge, and John Lister, researcher on the People’s Inquiry into London’s NHS in 2012, will complete the commission.
The first session will be held on Saturday March 14 at Hammersmith Town Hall and the Commission will move to Ealing Town Hall on Saturday March 21. There will be further meetings at Hounslow Civic Centre on Saturday March 28 and finally at Brent Civic Centre on Saturday May 9. All sessions will run from 9.30am-5.30pm.
People who wish to provide written evidence to the panel are asked to email firstname.lastname@example.org as soon as possible. People can also send submissions by post to Peter Smith, Clerk to the Commission, Room 39, Hammersmith Town Hall, London W6 9JU.