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Hospital bosses admit fighting to keep open’

PUBLISHED: 12:38 03 April 2008 | UPDATED: 14:34 25 August 2010

BOSSES at a hospital threatened with service cuts have finally spoken out and revealed that they have been fighting for the past year-and-a-half to keep it open.

BOSSES at a hospital threatened with service cuts have finally spoken out and revealed that they have been fighting for the past year-and-a-half to keep it open.

Chief executive of Queen Mary's Hospital NHS Trust Kate Grimes told a Trust meeting on Tuesday she had to fight to keep elective surgery on site and agreed that if that was taken away too, there would be no hospital left.

The Trust made an official response on Tuesday to the proposals by A Picture of Health, to take major services such as the Accident and Emergency and the maternity unit away from their hospital.

The response comes one year after they were first approached by your campaigning Times.

When the Times first launched their Save Our Services campaign, Ms Grimes repeatedly denied services were under threat.

Last April, she denied that nearby PFI hospitals were causing cuts to Queen Mary's services, as reported in the Times.

She said: "The work is not to close our A&E it is to make changes in it."

At the meeting, Mavis Chandler, 68, of Tyron Way, Sidcup, said they should have said all these things earlier.

She said: "You were coming here with your hands tied behind your backs.

"If the Trust had said this at the beginning, we would have been able to give you more support.

"We didn't know where you were coming from."

Communications director at Queen Mary's, Carol Holland told Mrs Chandler the Trust did not reveal their position earlier, to allow people to express their views and not have a judicial review against them.

Ms Grimes said she agreed with staff that the options are poorly explained and have created confusion.

She also said that moving work to teaching hospitals were based on 'unrealistic assumptions' and criticised the consultation document by A Picture of Health.

She said: "The consultation isn't our consultation.

"We are responding to the consultation in the same way as the public are. Bexley Care Trust are the ones who are involved.

"We had no input into the drafting and the first we saw of it was when we saw it.

"As a start we didn't have any input into the final consultation and we were asked to respond to it. We asked our staff to help us in drafting our response."

The Trust are backing Option 3 as chiefs say this will enable the separation of elective work from complex and emergency work.

They discounted Option 2 as they think it will not produce the concentration of expertise which forms the clinical basis for A Picture of Health.

One worker at the hospital, who did not want to be named, told the board: "How can Option 3 be the best choice when we are closing two A&E departments? It is not going to work. Princess Royal Hospital, Bromley has closed its department regularly recently."

A spokesperson for A Picture of Health said: "Queen Mary's Sidcup Hospital Trust is an important consultee in our consultation process - and they are a vital partner in relation to the proposed changes.

"We wouldn't want to start discussing their specific responses yet - the consultation period is still open and people can still contribute."

marina.soteriou@archant.co.uk

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