Hospital Closures - 'The Fight Will Go On'

Lib Dem Group Leader Gary Malcolm reviews last night's meeting

Related links

photo courtesy Cllr Jon Ball

300 Pack Town Hall to Hear Hospital Closures Debate

Hospitals Downgrade to Be Forensically Examined

Hospital Closures are 'Matter of Life and Death'

Sign Up For The Newsletter

Rarely do public meetings in Ealing Town Hall’s Victoria Hall fill the venue. Tonight was very different. A full meeting with many residents from all over the borough having their say.

From the Liberal Democrats there was myself and Councillor Andrew Steed as well as Councillors Jon Ball and Nigel Bakhai, our spokesperson for Heath matters, who had come back from the Liberal Democrat conference which had finished earlier that day.

The debate pitted members from NHS North West London with representatives of the Save Our Hospital Ealing (SOHE) campaign.  Then the floor was opened to members of the audience.

The meeting chaired by Victoria Macdonald, Heath correspondent of Channel 4 was packed and so many of the audience wanted to ask questions it actually finished 30 minutes late.

The general points that were raised by residents or said by the panel were:

• Many people believe the hospital consultation NHS North West London is conducting is biased and flawed. Many still do not know about the proposals, only 50 copies of the consultation were available in Southall library (which serves about 65,000 residents!)

• The proposals pit one community against another. Dr Mark Spencer (NHS NW London Medical Director) says it's okay if you vote to keep Charing Cross' A&E and shut Ealing's A&E or visa versa.

• It appeared that if any of the hospitals were downgraded they would have a smaller building on site and sell the land.

•Dr Spencer said that Maternity services at Ealing Hospital have got worse but information opresented to the audience showed this to be incorrect. Latest figures show that Ealing's maternity unit is the best in North West London - yet NHS NW London want to close it.

• It is very strange that the current plans show fewer people having operations and being admitted into the various wards – despite the fact that the population and birth rate is increasing in West London.

• A local doctor in the debate said it takes far longer to travel to hospital than the NHS proposals tell us. Even if you travel where the proposals state they assume people live next to a tube or rail station.

• A senior cardiologist at Ealing Hospital spoke against the NHS proposals and said a lot of his colleagues agreed with him.

I am a diabetic and I find the NHS plans bonkers. It was great to see a full hall so people could ask a lot of questions to those who think that downgrading our hospitals is a good idea. The consultation was biased and did not engage with Ealing’s communities fully. Many people still do not know about the plans. The fight will go on.

Councillor Gary Malcolm, Ealing Lib Dem Group Leader


27th September 2012