Hammersmith Hospital's A&E Still Faces Closure

Date of shutdown provisionally set for September 10

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Though the new administration at Hammersmith and Fulham Council has pledged to defend Charing Cross Hospital, it appears the closure of Hammersmith Hospital's A & E department and replacement with an urgent care centre is still set to go ahead.

The date has provisionally been set for September 10 - the same day that the A&E at Central Middlesex Hospital in Park Royal is to be shut.

Imperial College Healthcare NHS Trust has announced the current 12-hour urgent care centre at Hammersmith Hospital will be enhanced and expanded, opening 24 hours a day, seven days a week, later this year.

The trust's statement continues:

" This expansion of our urgent care service is in preparation for the closure of the hospital’s emergency department as part of a major programme to improve health services in north west London which was agreed by the Secretary of State for Health in October 2013.

" The changes, led by clinicians, will benefit local people and are intended to provide more local care wherever possible and to concentrate specialist services where necessary to increase quality and safety.

" On the basis of advice given by the Independent Reconfiguration Panel, the Secretary of State for Health announced that the closure of the emergency departments at Hammersmith and at Central Middlesex hospitals would go ahead ‘as soon as practicable’ this year as part of the early phase of the Shaping a healthier future programme.

" The provisional closure date is 10 September 2014. The Trust’s main priority is patient care and safety and detailed planning for these changes is underway. No changes will be made until we are sure that everything is in place for a smooth transfer to the new arrangements and that a safe, high quality emergency care system is in place.

" In addition to the expansion of the urgent care centre at Hammersmith Hospital, other hospitals locally with a major emergency department will prepare for additional patients.

" Ambulances will continue to take patients to the most appropriate service for their needs. This includes the enhanced Hammersmith Hospital urgent care centre as well as major emergency departments like the one at St Mary’s Hospital which has a 24/7 consultant-led major trauma centre.

" As now, patients suspected of having a heart attack will be taken straight to Hammersmith Hospital which has one of London’s eight heart attack centres, providing specialist 24 hour/7 day emergency care for people in west London."

However, according to Imperial's own public document, St Mary's in Paddington may not be ready to receive extra patients in September.

On page 53, the document states: " Modelling suggests that the emergency department at St. Mary’s will receive an additional 25 ambulances and up to 15 UCC-referred patients a day. It is anticipated that these will convert to 13 admissions and therefore plans for additional capacity are being developed.

" The current capacity at St Mary’s for acute admissions is already at maximum utilisation.
Work is therefore underway to identify sufficient space to establish an appropriate ward
environment to accommodate these patients, as well as facilitating improvements to the
existing care pathway through the expansion of the acute medical facilities on the first floor."

An Imperial College NHS trust spokeswoman told the Evening Standard: “We have extra acute beds at St Mary’s Hospital, normally used during the busy winter period to ensure we can quickly admit those patients who need in-patient care.

“We will be using these, if required, after the closure of Hammersmith hospital’s emergency unit in order to ensure that we continue to provide safe care to all our patients."

Imperial College Healthcare NHS Trust says that a major public awareness and information campaign in the lead up to the changes will ensure local people know where to access healthcare urgently or in an emergency.


June 3, 2014