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Hospital future uncertain’

PUBLISHED: 18:55 02 September 2009 | UPDATED: 17:05 25 August 2010

HEALTH bosses hinted that the long-term future of a hospital is uncertain. Chiefs from South London Healthcare NHS Trust were questioned on Tuesday evening at Bexley council chamber over a decision to close A&E services at Queen Mary s Hospital between 8

HEALTH bosses hinted that the long-term future of a hospital is uncertain.

Chiefs from South London Healthcare NHS Trust were questioned on Tuesday evening at Bexley council chamber over a decision to close A&E services at Queen Mary's Hospital between 8pm and 8am from Wednesday, September 9.

Chief executive Chris Streather said: "We would not rule out selling off parts of the estate," when he responded to a question put by the council on behalf of the public over the long-term viability of Queen Mary's. They also revealed the winding down of its A&E department for "patient safety" reasons will cost £580,000.

The cost of expanding the hospital's urgent care facility, one step down from emergency care, is a result of employing extra GPs and nurses overnight, loss of income from transferred A&E contracts and the costs of informing the public about changes. Mr Streather said: "We cannot physically fill enough A&E doctor positions.

"Staff are currently working beyond the call of duty. We are approaching the cliff edge and it would be totally irresponsible to reach the edge and not take action.This decision is simply about patient safety, if it was just about money we could do without it."

He reassured members of the public at the meeting that there was enough capacity at surrounding hospitals and that patient numbers involved would be "minimal".

Trust bosses admitted that the uncertainty surrounding Queen Mary's future had made it more difficult to recruit highly qualified medical staff.

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