The Health Secretary, Andrew Lansley, has today given the go-ahead for the closure of the Accident and Emergency and maternity units in Chase Farm hospital, Enfield. Both services will transfer to North Middlesex Hospital with an urgent care centre taking the place of the A&E at Chase Farm.
Chase Farm is the very same hospital that both Lansley and David Cameron visited in October 2007, before the last general election. During the visit – the type of which is normally cringeworthy no matter what colour tie the politician is wearing – Cameron boldly challenged: “What I would say to Gordon Brown is if you call an election on November 1, we'll stop the closure of services at this hospital on November 2.”
Unfortunately it seems as if that promise may not have been as cast iron as many voters in the area would have hoped for. Local residents were fiercely against the closure, as were Enfield council and local Conservative MP Nick de Bois.
The decision has not been taken lightly and is one that may well be replicated, not only in other parts of London, but in the rest of the country.
The case for closure is clear; services are too thinly spread and the medical professionals are not seeing the ‘critical mass’ of patients to enable them to develop the skills needed for both A&E and maternity departments, meaning mortality rates are usually higher. They are also not financially viable as often there are other large hospitals offering similar services a short distance away, especially in London.
This will still be hard to take for local residents, however, who will see the distance to their local A&E increase, people who may also feel misled by politicking before the election.
By Andy Thornley. Image by artofthestate in the Londonist Flickr pool.