Published 8 October 2012
Ealing Council’s cabinet is calling on NHS North West London to scrap its ‘fundamentally flawed’ plan to decimate hospital services in the area.
Councillors attending an extraordinary cabinet meeting on Friday 5 October heard damning criticisms of the NHSs business case and consultation on plans that would see four out of nine A&Es in the area close and nine of 11 major types of services stripped from Ealing Hospital.
An independent review carried out by former NHS chief executive Tim Rideout has raised serious concerns about the way proposals have been drawn up, the speed in which they would be introduced and ability of health services to cope with the scale of change. The health expert has also queried the safety of the proposals given that they rely on primary care community services that do not yet exist. Mr Rideout also raised uncertainty over the ability of other hospitals to deal with extra demand on already stretched services.
Ealing has been singled out as the borough most affected by the plans, not least because of the adverse impact of increased travel times on local peoples access to emergency services. Despite this, the report found the NHS had an inadequate understanding of the impact of the plans on local peoples health as well as a failure to take into account the quality of services currently provided and the potential significant loss of clinical expertise.
Councillor Jasbir Anand, cabinet member for health and adult services, said: This independent report confirms our worst fears. The people of this borough are being asked to take a huge leap of faith based on an inadequate plan, driven by the need to save money rather than improving the health of local people.
We won't gamble with our health or be bystanders as our hospital services are dismantled. NHS North West London should scrap these plans now.
A report by the councils health and adult social services scrutiny panel also raised serious concerns with the NHSs approach. It questioned if the proposals could be effectively delivered by 2015 considering the scale of improvement required in out-of-hospital care and the need to ensure clinical staff were in place to make these services work. The panel said it was unacceptable that the NHS had failed to provide a risk register showing how the programme would be delivered.
The panel stated its concern about increased travel times to major hospitals in the region for more than 174,000 people from key equality groups like older people and pregnant women, the majority of them Ealing residents. Using the data supplied by the NHS, in areas identified as having the highest health care needs, more than 60% of people travelling to a major hospital on public transport would have a journey of more than 30 minutes. And, 50% of expectant mothers living in these areas would have to travel for more than 30 minutes to access maternity services. This would particularly hit people in deprived parts of the borough currently served by Ealing Hospital.
Councillor Julian Bell, leader of the council said: Local people in their thousands have signed petitions and even marched through our borough to oppose these half-baked plans to slash our hospitals. Last week, I asked the doctors behind the proposals if they were listening to the people of Ealing. Although they didnt answer my question, I hope they see sense and drop these proposals now before any more of Londons precious health funding is squandered on a scheme doomed to failure.
The reports we have considered today will be submitted as part of the councils response to this consultation. They shine a light on the inadequacies of the NHS business case, its consultation process and its plans for hospitals in the region. In short, our message to NHS North West London will be: Keep your hands off our hospitals, this council and the people of Ealing will fight these cuts.
The reports to cabinet including Mr Rideouts independent report are available on the councils website.
All political parties on Ealing Council oppose the proposals.