Independent Review Into A&E Closures

Four councils concerned about local health provision

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Top barrister, Michael Mansfield QC, is to lead an investigation into the impact of local A&E closures on other hospitals.

Official NHS figures show the trusts that run St Mary's, Charing Cross, West Middlesex, Ealing and Northwick Park hospitals have all failed to meet A&E waiting time targets over recent weeks.

In the three weeks after 19 October, all three hospital trusts dipped below the national target, which says 95% of patients should be seen within 4 hours. Performance at North West London Hospitals Trust, which runs Ealing and Northwick Park hospitals, fell to just 67.8% of patients being seen within 4 hours, the second worst result in the country.

Now, four councils in Ealing, Hammersmith & Fulham, Brent and Hounslow have got together to set up an impartial inquiry to look in depth at the impact local closures are having, and at the implications of further hospital reorganisation proposals, including the planned closure of services at Ealing hospital and Charing Cross hospital in Hammersmith.

Councillor Julian Bell, leader of Ealing Council said:
"Since plans to change emergency services in our area were first suggested we have felt that our very real concerns have been largely ignored. We have heard lots of spin about what will replace A&E services at Ealing, Charing Cross, Central Middlesex and Hammersmith hospitals but before these changes go any further we need proper answers. Emergency services in this area are already struggling so it makes no sense to cut Ealing's A&E. By engaging someone of the calibre of Michael Mansfield QC to carry out this independent review we know that the public will get a true picture of what is happening and if the NHS is keeping its word about providing new services before others are closed."

H&F Council Leader, Councillor Stephen Cowan said: ''A&E closures are already putting dangerous additional pressures on other hospitals and will only get worse if services at Charing Cross are also closed. The official figures speak for themselves, but we plan to bring some extra, independent scrutiny to examine what local trusts are doing to our hospital services. An impartial review is needed, free of vested interests, of the real and likely impact of these major hospital re-configurations and the financial reality behind them.

The leader of Hounslow Council, Councillor Steve Curran said: "Ensuring a safe and sustainable future for West Middlesex Hospital remains one of Hounslow Council's top priorities. We continue to work closely with Hounslow Clinical Commissioning Group and the NHS Trust to make sure local residents receive the best possible care."

Michael Mansfield QC last year chaired the Lewisham People's Commission, an inquiry into the proposals to close services at Lewisham Hospital. He has represented the family of Jean Charles de Menezes and the families of victims at the Bloody Sunday Inquiry. He chaired an inquiry into the shoot to kill policy in the North of Ireland and has represented many families at inquests, including the Marchioness disaster and the Lockerbie bombing. He also represents the family of Stephen Lawrence.

He will be joined on the commission by Dr Stephen Hirst, a retired GP from Chiswick with extensive local knowledge and John Lister, researcher on the People's Inquiry into London's NHS in 2012 and Senior Lecturer in Journalism at Coventry University.

2nd December 2014