Plans to sell more than half of Charing Cross Hospital and minimise or move many of its services have been approved.
Tears and anger were the order of the day at this morning’s (July 30) board meeting which confirmed proposals to sell 55 per cent of the site and ‘move out’ A&E services, as well as reducing inpatient beds from 360 to 24.
Two years of campaigning by the Save Our Hospitals group against changes to the hospital in Hammersmith culminated in just half an hour of the three hour meeting of Imperial College Healthcare NHS Trust’s board.
Dr Tracey Batten, CEO of the board, confirmed the changes under the Shaping a Healthier Future programme which also include the current building being replaced by a £150 million hospital once part of the site is sold off to pay for it.
New facilities will also be built at St Mary’s Hospital in Paddington where the majority of emergency patients from Hammersmith Hospital and Central Middlesex are set to go after their A&Es close on September 10.
When the plans were released last Thursday (July 24) Imperial were adamant the A&E is not closing , but at the meeting today Dr Batten could not give details. She said: “The A&E will not be closing but will be in line with an emergency services appropriate for a pioneering local hospital. We need to confirm what this is with guidance from NHS England.”
Other services to ‘move out’ into St Mary’s Hospital and Hammersmith Hospital include acute surgery, neurosurgery, the stroke unit, elderly care, urology, complex ear, nose and throat cases and community outpatient care.
The board also confirmed the Western Eye Hospital in Marylebone and 45 per cent of St Mary’s will be sold.
Emotional campaigners heckled the board members and one woman whose daughter has been a frequent user of Charing Cross started crying over the changes which they say will endanger people’s lives.
Labour Hammersmith MP, Andy Slaughter, was initially barred from the public meeting by NHS security guards but was let in after 20 minutes. Speaking after the decision, he said: “We were here to protest on behalf of thousands of west Londoners who don’t want their A&Es to close and a major hospital to be demolished.
“Now more than half the Charing Cross site is set to be sold, the existing hospital demolished and the new building will provide less than a quarter of the current floor space. All consultant emergency services will close or go elsewhere.
“These are irresponsible and half-baked decisions when the population is going up and the NHS is under unprecedented strain after four years of Tory cuts.”
Protesters were angry at the changes and what they say is a lack of empathy from NHS bosses. Before the meeting, John Coles, who lives off Askew Road, said: “I’m filled with misgiving about today because I feel all the decisions have been made but it doesn’t mean it’s right.”
Charing Cross’s urgent care centre is set to increase from 12 hours to 24 hours.