There are no plans to close Charing Cross Hospital for "the foreseeable future", councillors and campaigners working to save it have been told as millions are being spent on the Accident and Emergency (A&E) department.
Medical director Professor Julian Redhead gave reassurances at the Hammersmith and Fulham Council (H&F) health, inclusion and social care policy and accountability committee meeting on Monday (July 2).
H&F and Save our Hospitals Hammersmith and Fulham (SOH) have been campaigning against any reduction of services at the hospital.
And professor Redhead pointed to the £7.2 million funding Imperial College Healthcare NHS Trust has sunk into redeveloping the A&E as evidence it was investing in the hospital's future - rather than considering shutting it down.
The A&E redevelopment, slated for completion by June 2019, will include an increase in the number of rooms in the urgent care centre, add capacity to the emergency department, create new dedicated mental health rooms, expand ambulatory emergency care capacity, and introduce same day consultant reviews.
The Trust was presenting its final draft of its quality account for the financial year ending 2017/18 to councillors at the meeting.
In the report it stated key achievements included strong performance against national cancer waiting time standards and outstanding medical care practice at Charing Cross.
However it also noted the struggle to meet four-hour A&E waiting times and 18-week referral to treatment targets.
Councillors focused many questions on the future of Charing Cross.
Councillor Bora Kwon told Prof Redhead locals felt unsure of what would happen beyond 2021, and did not feel reassured by the redevelopment, because other West London hospitals had seen investment then still been closed.
“There are certainly no plans before 2021, and there are no plans in the foreseeable future,” Prof Redhead replied.
Co-optee Jim Grealy, from SOH, said many locals were appreciative of the treatment the Trust offered at its hospitals, which includes St Mary's.
However, he noted the report said the Trust was struggling to meet targets, and there still patients waiting more than 52 weeks for elective procedures.
Prof Redhead said the "number one" pressure on the hospital was bed capacity, exacerbated by the demand for emergency admissions which affected elective patient waiting lists when the hospitals were especially busy.
Cllr Ben Coleman said most councillors were hearing stories from residents in the borough of being discharged too quickly from hospitals. He said this meant the local authority was spending more on social care in the community.
He said: “Its not good enough and we are concerned, as a council, that people are being discharged too early and you are under immense financial pressure to do that.”
Prof Redhead said finance "doesn't really come into it," adding that while it was expensive to keep people in hospital, receiving front-line care he argued “it doesn't make sense to me to keep patients in an acute bed when they don't need to be there, as another patient may need it.”
“It's not just money, it's to do with safety. If we keep someone in hospital another couple of days, the chances are they will pick up an infection. It's striking a fine balance,” he added.
The report said the Trust faced challenges from an ageing estate and a lack of space to add capacity, which squeezed beds.
However, it had managed to expand its scope for redevelopments using its charity funding arm.
This year the Trust secured planning permission for the first phase of a redevelopment of St Mary’s. Its next move is to build a case for investment in a new, eight-storey building to house ophthalmology services and the majority of the hospital’s outpatient services, the Trust's report said.