It's Official: Borough's A&E Units Will Both Close

Campaigners now hope to fight plans in the courts

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As expected, plans to close A &E units at four local hospitals, including both hospitals within Hammersmith and Fulham have been rubber stamped by the Joint Committee of Primary Care Trusts at a public meeting held in Westminster on Tuesday February 19.

The decision means that any "blue light" emergencies - in other words anyone requiring an ambulance - within our borough will be taken to either Chelsea and Westminster, St Mary's in Paddington or further afield to West Middlesex in Isleworth.

Save Our Hospitals campaigners have vowed to fight on and say they now seeking a judicial review of the plans put forward by NHS NorthWest London.

This must be taken up by a local authority, but after campaigning for many months against the plans, Hammersmith and Fulham Council has performed an apparent U-turn and struck a deal with NHS North West London, so will not be taking further action.

However, in neighbouring Ealing, where Accident and Emergency services are to be closed at Ealing and Central Middlesex Hospitals, the council has said it will fight the plans.

Councillor Julian Bell, leader of Ealing Council, says:
" Despite the spin in the last couple of weeks implying hospital services have been saved, the people of this borough will not be hoodwinked.

" Following today’s decision, we are looking at all the options open to us to fight these plans and save our hospitals, including referring it to the secretary of state and challenging it through a judicial review."

Under the plans, A &E departments will be closed and replaced with Urgent Care centres staffed by GPs and nurses, which are able to treat a limited range of non-life threatening illnesses and injuries.

Hammersmith Hospital in Shepherd's Bush will become a specialist hospital and its intensive care department will become a specialist unit.

Charing Cross will be demolished and replaced with a "specialist health and social care hospital" with no A&E services and the number of beds slashed from 500 to 60.

The new hospital will use only a small part of the current site - as little as one acre, or 3% of the space - with the remainder sold off to developers. Profit from the land sale will be used to help fund the new building.

Though no specific developers have been mentioned, St George, part of the giant Berkeley Group which already has a number of developments in the borough, is building Fulham Reach just yards away on the riverside, and it may well be interested in creating a second inland development, as it has in Fulham with Imperial Wharf and Chelsea Creek.

Hammersmith MP Andy Slaughter, who has led the local Save Our Hospitals campaign says: " This is the biggest hospital closure programme in the history of the NHS. It will put lives at risk across West London and will give a second class health service to two million people."

Save Our Hospitals is run by a group of local people along with the MP. You can find out more about the Save our Hospitals and offers your support at the website  and follow it on twitter, hashtag #Savehfhospitals.

You can read more about Hammersmith and Fulham Council's past opposition to the plans, when former Council Leader Stephen Greenhalgh said: "Removing all A&E services in my borough makes no sense" on its website at Save Charing Cross Hospital and Save Hammersmith Hospital.

February 20, 2013