Today sees the downgrading of A&E departments at Hammersmith and Central Middlesex Hospitals into Urgent Care Centres. Campaigners are still asking the Health Secretary and Mayor to oppose the changes, particularly in light of a recent report that found Northwick Park A&E — where some patients from either hospital will end up — as needing improvement. The closures are part of a reorganisation of hospitals in north west London into fewer, but bigger, A&Es.
An assessment of North West London Hospitals Trust by the Care Quality Commission (CQC) rated Central Middlesex's A&E as 'good' but Northwick Park was rated as 'requiring improvement', including on safety. The CQC said Northwick Park A&E is "under pressure", which led to some patients 'bedding down' in the department as the hospital tried to admit them to a ward. It also found issues with checking equipment and noted that the department is struggling to hit the NHS target of seeing 95% of patients within four hours of arrival.
Dr Onkar Sahota, an Ealing GP who was elected to the London Assembly for Labour partly on the back of campaigning against hospital closures, said:
"Today is a sad day for the NHS in west London. Why the Health Secretary thinks it is acceptable to close a ‘good’ A&E unit, while the neighbouring hospital that will pick up the slack was judged as ‘requires improvement’, will be beyond belief for the thousands of people who today see their local A&E axed."
There's a new A&E unit being built at Northwick Park which should be finished by November, and the head of North West London Hospitals Trust has said they expect Central Middlesex and Hammersmith's closure to lead to only an extra 24 attendances each day at Northwick Park. Central Middlesex's daytime-only A&E saw around 38 patients each day before closure, whereas Northwick Park sees around 230 — which could go some way to explaining why Northwick Park is feeling more pressure. However, concerns over care and a new department that's not ready yet won't help allay locals' concerns.