Dates Set for Public Hearings into Future of NHS Healthcare

Independent Healthcare Commission comes to Town Hall on March 14

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Dates have been set for public hearings into the future of hospital and NHS health care in west London, which will be part of an in-depth inquiry led by one of the country’s leading barristers.

The Independent Healthcare Commission, chaired by Michael Mansfield QC, was set up by four local councils in north west London who have been deeply concerned by deteriorating hospital services and impending threats to existing services.

Last Saturday (January 10), the commission met to set the framework for the inquiry and considered a summary of existing documentary evidence. A call for written evidence from the public was issued last month and submissions are requested by the deadline of February 2.

The Commission is inviting residents to a public meeting to hear evidence from invited speakers as to how the changes to the local health services, whether planned or already introduced, will affect or have already affected the quality of acute care in the region.

The changes under scrutiny include the closures of A&Es at Hammersmith and Central Middlesex hospitals last September and the planned loss of acute care beds. The independent commission will also review plans to:

1. Demolish the current Charing Cross Hospital and replace it with a smaller building, a fraction of the size of the former hospital, and with a series of significantly scaled down health services. 
2. Scale down Charing Cross Hospital’s current A&E to an urgent care clinic (also now defined by the government as a ‘Type 3 A&E’) that will not take emergency ‘blue light’ ambulance cases and will mostly be a facility that is led by GPs.

The public meeting in Hammersmith & Fulham will be held at Hammersmith Town Hall on Saturday March 14.

As well as in Hammersmith & Fulham, public meetings will also be held at the three other west London boroughs which set up the commission: Ealing, Brent and Hounslow.

Cllr Stephen Cowan, Leader of Hammersmith & Fulham Council, said: "We are determined to defend local hospitals and our local NHS. I am extremely grateful to have Michael Mansfield QC chair this commission. He has an outstanding record and this independent review is essential as recent events with the A&E crisis clearly demonstrates.

" I am also indebted to Dr Stephen Hirst and Dr John Lister for giving their time and expertise who will join Michael Mansfield on the commission."

Michael Mansfield QC has taken on and been a part of some of the most important legal cases, appeals and inquiries in modern times. He represents the family of Stephen Lawrence and is representing families from the Hillsborough Family Support group. Mr Mansfield also represented the family of Jean Charles de Menezes and the families of victims at the Bloody Sunday Inquiry. He chaired an inquiry into the shoot to kill policy in Northern Ireland and has represented many families at inquests, including the Marchioness disaster and the Lockerbie bombing. He chaired the Lewisham People's Commission, an inquiry into the proposals to close services at Lewisham Hospital.

Michael Mansfield will be joined on the Commission by Dr Stephen Hirst, a retired GP from Chiswick with extensive local knowledge and John Lister, researcher on the People's Inquiry into London's NHS in 2012 and Senior Lecturer in Journalism at Coventry University.

Written evidence on the impact of the changes should be submitted by Monday February 2, 2015 to Peter Smith, Clerk to the Commission, at Hammersmith & Fulham Council. Submissions should be addressed to him at Room 39, Hammersmith Town Hall, London W6 9JU or sent by email to peter.smith@lbhf.gov.uk. Later submissions will be forwarded to the Commission but may not be given the same attention as those received by the deadline.

January 19, 2015