|Hospitals Consultation Was 'Sham' Say Health Campaigners|
Save Our Hospitals say it was not fit for purpose and a waste of money
Campaigners have reacted furiously to the findings of the Shaping A Healthier Future public consultation branding it ‘disaster for healthcare’ and failing to take into account the widespread public opposition to the plans.
They say the initial findings presented by Ipsos MORI at the Hilton Metropole hotel on Wednesday 28 November revealed that only 17,022 people had responded across the region to the lengthy and leading consultation.
The NHS’ ‘preferred option’ (A) was the most popular option - which if approved would see the downgrading of a number of hospitals including Ealing.
However they say that during the same consultation period Save Our Hospitals campaigners from Ealing, Brent and Hammersmith collected 80,000 signatures on petitions opposed to the proposals, which were submitted to 10 Downing Street last week.
More than 10,000 people joined public demonstrations and marched through the streets of Ealing and Hammersmith to oppose plans.
The consultation showed in Ealing, 75 per cent of people opposed the plans that could leave Ealing, Hammersmith, Charing Cross and Central Middlesex hospitals all without an A&E unit.
Save Our Hospitals campaigners believe that this outcome from the consultation was inevitable and a foregone conclusion. Dr Onkar Sahota AM, Chair of the Save Our Hospitals Ealing campaign, said: ''We have always said that the consultation was a sham and not fit for purpose. Now our worst fears have been confirmed: NW London NHS will not listen to the public in Ealing.
''This was never real public consultation about the future of healthcare in north-west London. It was simply a bureaucratic fait accompli with NW London NHS desperately doing everything possible to attempt to justify its ludicrous decision to close four of the nine Accident and Emergency units in the region. I find it staggering that NW London NHS is spending £1, 437, 000 on communications and engagement to promote a preferred option as part of this consultation process. This is money that would be better spent on frontline services.
“The consultation was based on the false assumption that five A&E units is adequate to serve northwest London’s current population of some 2 million people, which is also rapidly increasing. It was full of leading questions that pushed people to have to choose the preferred option by default. Many people will not have realised that they were actually doing so.”
Cllr Julian Bell, Leader of Ealing Council, said “It is disappointing that NW London NHS seem determined to plough on and are willing to disregard the people of Ealing’s widespread anger with their proposals which is a disaster for health care in the borough.
“I have repeatedly called for them to take note of the widespread popularity of the Save our Hospitals campaign but it seems they are simply unwilling to listen. The results of the consultation show that the majority of respondents, 38 per cent, actually opposed its basic principle of ‘bringing more healthcare services together on fewer sites. This is a major flaw which undermines the very principle of the proposed reforms.
“Ironically, I believe that it is the Save Our Hospitals campaign itself which has brought the public’s attention to the proposals contained in the Shaping A Healthier Future consultation. Virtually half of all the consultation response forms received came from Ealing. It was noted that a key concern from the responses received was the closure of Ealing hospital A&E, which shows how successful the campaign has been with engaging the public.
“This is by no means the end. Ealing Council and the Save Our Hospitals campaign remain united against these deeply flawed and badly thought out proposals and will continue to fight these proposals as far as possible to help protect the healthcare of the people of Ealing.”
The health trust's final recommendations are expected to be considered by the secretary of state for health in February next year.
23rd November 2012