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Bexley review of the year: January and February

PUBLISHED: 09:25 28 December 2012

January: the possibility of closing Queen Mary's Hospital has been published in official documents for the first time

January: the possibility of closing Queen Mary's Hospital has been published in official documents for the first time

Archant

In the first of a six-part series between now and New Year’s Eve, we look back at the stories that made the headlines in Bexley in 2012. It was quite a year for the borough.

February: Nuxley's owner Jean Ray with her son RichardFebruary: Nuxley's owner Jean Ray with her son Richard

January

Losing Queen Mary’s Hospital and shedding 695 posts are two options NHS bosses could take if they want South London NHS Trust to gain foundation status.

The Trust, which this year alone is set to make a loss of 69.8million, is already saddled with debts of £140 million.

Drastic measures outlined in a trust report to NHS London at a board meeting this week are based on “worst case scenarios” and include only keeping the Bromley and Woolwich hospitals.

The trust admitted it was the first time it had officially aired the idea but said the plans were a back-up if the current business plan to reduce its debt did not work.

It reads: “Our downside case includes a mitigation approach that reduces our footprint from three to two large sites.” But Trust chairman John Ballard maintained they did not support closing the Sidcup hospital. A Trust spokesman said: “As a trust, we are working to substantially reduce costs to avoid this in relation to Queen Mary’s.

“Our planning with local Clinical Commissioners and Bexley Council is for Queen Mary’s to become a Health and Wellbeing campus, with a specialist surgical centre, diagnostics and outpatients, alongside additional community provided health services.

“We are working with staff to redesign our services which will include an increase in out of hospital care in the next few years and this will mean a smaller hospital workforce, however, we expect any compulsory redundancies to be minimal.”

Old Bexley and Sidcup MP James Brokenshire said: “I have received explicit assurances from both the local hospital trust and NHS London that there is absolutely no intention to close our hospital. It is very unhelpful that what amounts to little more than a worst case scenario not expected to occur should have been released in this way.”

“It is absolutely right that a recovery plan is developed. This should include more integrated working with other local NHS organisations such as Oxleas as well as central London teaching institutions such as King’s and Guy’s and St Thomas’s Hospitals. I have long urged for this to be advanced and I am pleased that this is now being examined.

“Rather than remote speculation on an improbable doomsday scenario, it is this urgent tangible work that should be prioritised to underpin a positive future for our local hospital services.”

Also this month:

Bowlers at the Danson Park Bowls consortium were overjoyed to receive a £40,000 Olympic legacy grant.

Erith and Thamesmead MP Teresa Pearce slammed London Mayor Boris Johnson’s election promise to build a ferry crossing in Thamesmead.

Bexley teenager Charlie Randell tried to raise £50,000 for a life-changing operation in USA as he battled cerebral palsy.

Staff at Isis Prison in Thamesmead were criticised by inspectors.

February

The owners of a once-thriving toy shop chain are to close another down as they focus on their last remaining store in the borough and online sales.

Nuxley Toys has been in Welling for 40 years but the shop which has sold pocket money treats and toys found at the bottom of many Christmas stockings will shut on Saturday, March 10, with the loss of four jobs.

However, the 36-year-old shop in Milton Road, Gravesend, will continue, along with trade on the ebay website.

Owner Jean Ray, 72, from Crockenhill, near Swanley, said: “It’s heartbreaking, I’m devastated, we have been here in Welling for more than 40 years. We have had fantastic customers.

“We are now going to focus on Gravesend.”

She added: “At one point we had a shop in Bexleyheath, one in Uckfield in Sussex and the original shop in Nuxley Road, Belvedere, which is where the company got its name from. This is my favourite shop.

“What did not help is the banks closing, so people didn’t pop in and pay their bills and go shopping.”

The closure of the Bellgrove Road shop has been blamed on a combination of factors including parking costs and changes in the way people shop.

The lease on the double-fronted store is also due for renewal and high rates have also contributed.

Also this month:

A Bexleyheath record-collector auctioned six decades of chart-topping hits.

Staff at the DVLA’s Sidcup office called for public support amid fears their jobs were at risk.

Britain’s oldest couple, 100-year-old Ellen Buxton and her 99-year-old husband Lionel, marked Valentine’s Day by giving relationship advice on Twitter.

Sidcup milkman Edward Lee, who served the area for almost 50 years, was carried to Falconwood Crematorium on a milk float in his funeral procession.


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