Last weekend, l had an opportunity to address the closures of A&E ( blue light ) in the old North-West London NHS Trust particularly Charing Cross and its impact on the residents of Chiswick.
We are losing up to 4 A&E’s in North-West London, at a time of “crisis for all seasons” across the whole of Greater London. Over the seasonal break we 2,689 ambulances delayed for over 30 minutes handing over of patients to A&E; 1,604 urgent and elective operations cancelled and some 43 patients waiting on trolley’s longer than 12 hours. These figures were highlighted to me by a friend having to wait 5 & half hours to be admitted at St Mary’s hospital in Paddington on Christmas day.
The causes for the increased demands on A&E’s are many including having a younger and more mobile population who are not registered with GP’s;migrant communities from countries without history of good primary care and finally not least the increased pressure of older people with complex problems being put up for services.
In this respect my colleagues Dr Onka Sahota AM report on “London A&E crisis & Older People” is very enlightening. He established that recently as many as 9 per cent admissions to hospital are avoidable with better care for the elderly and that this rapidly going up. This all the while, as the number of adults receiving care in their homes has dropped 27 per cent. Resulting in Hounslow, to 75 people admitted for potential avoidable conditions per 1,000 aged 65 plus in the population. Its with such statistics in mind that its quite clear major investment in out of hospital care is needed before shutting down acute capacity. And in this respect the Labour Party is offering immediate support for social care by handing over £1.2 billion of NHS underspend to support the elderly at home at the next general election.
The more immediate concern for Chiswick residents is the closure of the A&E in Charing Cross which while in the adjoining borough of Hammersmith & Fulham is the A&E of choice for them. Imperial Healthcare NHS Trust (which manages Charing Cross, Hammersmith, Queen Charlotte’s and St Mary’s, Paddington) has made a Foundation Trust application. Remember without this status its unlikely to be able to compete for business in the NHS market place. Its highly unlikely that in the Council of Governors that in the 2 local authority seats, Hounslow will get one of those seats. As both Westminster and Hammersmith & Fulham have a better claim given the hospital sites are in their boroughs. Which will mean Chiswick is not going to get itself represented unless we have public & patient governors made up of Chiswick residents. So l would strongly encourage applications by residents of Chiswick for these positions to make up for the lack of representation.
Finally we have seen how hollow the Tory pledge to call halt on all hospital closures in 2010 General Election. It is no different to the “no if’s, no but’s, no third runway” position on the expansion of Heathrow which is very much alive now with interim findings of the Howard Davies Aviation Commission. And we should remember this track record during the present flood crisis where the PM has said “money is no object”.