Hospital services axed

PUBLISHED: 11:03 24 July 2008 | UPDATED: 15:04 25 August 2010

Glaziers Hall, London Bridge
Final decisions made on PCT cut backs
Michael Chuter - Chair JCPCT

Bexley 21-07-08 Glaziers Hall, London Bridge Final decisions made on PCT cut backs Michael Chuter - Chair JCPCT

HEALTH bosses have given the go-ahead to axe a hospital s A&E services despite widespread opposition to the plans.

HEALTH bosses have given the go-ahead to axe a hospital's A&E services despite widespread opposition to the plans.

The Joint Committee of Primary Care Trusts (JCPCT) opted for an amended version of Option Two put forward by the A Picture of Health committee.

At a meeting, on Monday, the JCPCT gave the green light to strip Queen Mary's Hospital, Sidcup (QMS) of its A&E, paediatric and maternity units as part of wider plans to streamline health services in south-east London.

The overflow from Queen Mary's Hospital will be relocated to neighbouring hospitals in Dartford, Bromley and Woolwich.

The decision comes more than a year after your campaigning Times delivered thousands of signatures against the plans to Downing Street.

As a decision has now been taken after the 14-week public consultation, in which the majority of respondents indicated they wanted no change to services, Bexley council bosses can refer the case to the Secretary of State for Health.

The Independent Reconfiguration Panel (IRP), an advisory group on NHS change will then decide if the contested consultation can go to a judicial review.

Bexley councillor Sharon Massey said that the council is "seriously considering" a judicial review.

Council bosses are due to meet other affected councils Greenwich and Bromley in a Joint Overview and Scrutiny Committee (JOSC) today.

Mrs Massey said: "The option that has come out was not one of the three options we were consulted on.

"Now, things are very different and not what we expected.

"QMS is worse off because the elective surgery is going on to four sites instead of just one. The hospital has therefore been undermined more than what was originally proposed in Option Two.

"We need to see what the other boroughs want to do. I would expect they are okay-ish with what has been decided.

"The only hospital which has significantly lost is QMS. The others are going to be expanded and have investment.

"We could end up fighting on our own for this. We have to see if we want to battle alone. It is a very black day for QMS."

London Mayor Boris Johnson has pledged to give evidence in favour of QMS should the case go to judicial review.

He said: "I am deeply disappointed by these proposals and will do everything I can to help the residents of Bexley in their battle to keep the important services provided by Queen Mary's.

"I have already stated that I will give evidence if the Government refers the case to the independent reconfiguration panel."

Bromley and Chislehurst MP Bob Neill said: "There was real anger in my constituency throughout the consultation period and I am incredibly disappointed that the views of so many people have been ignored.

"I really do believe that closing the A&E and maternity services at Queen Mary's will put more lives at risk, as my constituents will have to travel further to receive life saving treatment and be forced to rely on already overstretched services."

However chief executive of QMS Trust Kate Grimes said the hospital 'faces a bright future'.

Ms Grimes said: "I know that many people will see this as sad news for the hospital but we believe this decision gives us a great opportunity to be the leading hospital providing planned surgery for around a million people across south-east London.

"This is a fundamental change in the way hospitals provide services. In the past they have often been seen as competing for patients. Now we believe the model we are developing here will become the future of the NHS."

Medical director Roger Smith said: "As patients coming to Queen Mary's will no longer have their operations cancelled because of emergencies they will be confident that their operation will take place on the day it is booked for.

"And because we will not treat emergency patients we hope to virtually eliminate the risk of MRSA infection."

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