Cobbled Together Deal is Not Good Enough

Save Our Hospitals Chair sends urgent message to supporters

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Carlo Nero, Chair of Save our Hospitals has issued an urgent message to supporters clarifying the campaign's position following Hammersmith and Fulham's announcement this week that Charing Cross Hospital has been "saved".

He says:

Yesterday I received a call from Marcus Ginn, Council cabinet member for Community Care, informing me the council would announce a deal they’ve made with NHS NW London at the JHOSC (Joint Health Overview and Scrutiny Committee) meeting last night. They’re accepting Option ‘A’ but with a special deal for Charing Cross. They claim “a polyclinic would end up on the site otherwise”.

The deal effectively means that Charing Cross will be transformed from being a “Major Hospital” into a “Specialist Health and Social Care Hospital”.This an entirely new concept and was not part of the consultation: it appears to be some form of Urgent Care Centre or small, local hospital.

•£90 million will allegedly be spent in creating a new Hospital with an area of 16,500ft² and consisting of 60 beds, Diagnostics, Cancer Treatment, Sexual Health, Mental Health and Care for the Elderly.
•There will be an “innovative” Out of Hospital Strategy so that people can return more quickly to their homes and a 24-Hour Urgent Care Centre.
•70% of current volume will still go to Charing Cross while 30% will go to Chelsea and Westminster Hospital who plan to dramatically increase their A&E unit and remodel the hospital around it.
•Hammersmith will not be affected apart from its A&E closing. According to the Council, “It’s so small that there isn’t a clinical case for retaining it as an A&E”.

Some people may feel that this is positive news for Charing Cross - but the deal raises some very serious questions and concerns, namely:

•Charing Cross currently has 500 in-patient Beds. Cutting that down to 60 is a catastrophic change.
•In creating a Specialist Hospital that is a shadow of its former self are we now to believe that the other threatened hospitals in NW London our campaign has been supporting - Hammersmith, Ealing, Central Middlesex - should be sacrificed and thrown to the wolves? Why has it abandoned its campaign for Hammersmith?
•If we’re effectively being given the deal Lewisham was offered why should our local doctors be any less unhappy, and in some cases even outraged, than theirs?
•Why have the Council pre-empted NHS NW London’s announcement of its decision on February 19th? It appears to fly in the face of the consultation itself. Why has it become clinically ok to keep Charing Cross open? They've been telling us that it needs to close, to save lives. Why haven't NW London NHS made this announcement. What exactly is being offered?
•NHS NW London have claimed all along that they have no money and are being driven by financial considerations as well as clinical ones. Where is the £90 million coming from? From the sale of the site to developers or the cutting of services elsewhere?

Nobody at Save our Hospitals has been involved in negotiating this “deal” or was informed in advance, beyond the phone call I received shortly before the meeting. It seems clear to me, having chaired this campaign since last June, that this is absolutely not the result that Save our Hospitals was set up to achieve, and that we should continue to campaign. This cobbled together, second best deal is not good enough for the people of Fulham or Hammersmith!

God Bless,

Carlo Nero, Chair of Save our Hospitals, Hammersmith and Fulham

Campaigners are holding a Week of Action from this weekend, ending on February 16 with a rally in Lyric Square and a benefit gig at the Distillers pub in Fulham Palace Road. You can read full details here

February 10, 2013