The sessions will enable local people to hear evidence from invited speakers about changes already made, as well as those planned, to local health services in north west London. It is the largest reorganisation ever undertaken in NHS history.
The first session will be held on Saturday, 14 March at Hammersmith Town Hall after which the Commission will move to Ealing Town Hall on Saturday, 21 March. There will be further meetings at Hounslow Civic Centre on Saturday, 28 March and finally, at Brent Civic Centre on Saturday, 9 May.
The inquiry has been set up by Brent, Ealing, Hammersmith & Fulham and Hounslow councils, which have raised serious concerns about the scale, speed and safety of the changes and the ability of the remaining services to cope with the extra demand.
People who wish to present their own evidence at the public hearing should write to the commission in the next couple of weeks setting out their experiences of using local health services.
Barrister, Michael Mansfield QC, is to head the commission. Mr Mansfield has taken part in some of the most important legal cases, appeals and inquiries in recent times including representing Stephen Lawrence’s family and members of the Hillsborough Family Support group. Dr Stephen Hirst, a retired GP from Chiswick who has extensive local knowledge, and John Lister, researcher on the People’s Inquiry into London’s NHS in 2012, will complete the commission.
The changes that will be reviewed include the closures of A&Es at Hammersmith and Central Middlesex hospitals in September 2014. It will also scrutinise plans to demolish Ealing and Charing Cross hospitals, replacing them with much smaller hospitals resulting in a significant reduction in acute hospital beds as well as the removal of ‘blue light’ A&E services at both hospitals. In addition, it will look at the changes to maternity services in Ealing which will mean that women will no longer be able to give birth in Ealing Hospital. The commission will also assess the quality and type of out-of-hospital provision including GP services which the NHS promised to overhaul prior to hospital services closing.
Councillor Julian Bell, leader of Ealing Council, said: “We have being saying for more than two years that the NHS’s plans for this area were untested. Having good local health services is essential to all our residents. We are delighted that we have such a high-calibre commission reviewing the evidence before providing its opinion. I would urge as many people as possible to attend the hearings or provide written evidence so that their views can be taken into account.”
People who wish to provide written evidence to the panel are asked to email email@example.com as soon as possible. People can also send submissions by post to Peter Smith, Clerk to the Commission, Room 39, Hammersmith Town Hall, London W6 9JU.