Editorial comment: When will children’s A&E close?

Sam Volpe is concerned about the lack of transparency over the Royal Free children's A&E.

Sam Volpe is concerned about the lack of transparency over the Royal Free children's A&E. - Credit: Archant

Do you know what an STP is? Or an NLP? What about NCL?

All of these initialisms crop up if you look at who makes decisions about healthcare in Camden.

Unfortunately, for many the alphabet soup and complicated mix of organisations makes for an infuriatingly opaque decision-making process.

That’s before we even get onto Clinical Commissioning Groups (CCGs) and hospital trusts in North Central London (NCL).

It is North London Partners (NLP) which is a Sustainability and Transformation Partnership (STP) which have made the decision to reconfigure children’s hospital services in north London, as this newspaper reported last week.

Preparing for a potential second wave of coronavirus is of course vital, but in this situation not all clinical staff are convinced reorganising these services will help. And a week later, we’re no closer to confirmation of when changes will take effect.

Parents will not be able to access specialist children’s A&E services if they go to the Royal Free, at some point “in the next month”, according to the latest official line.

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The lack of clarity around this is no doubt anxiety-inducing for many parents.

Information is available on the North London Partners website, but how many parents will know that is where they should be looking? Frankly, anyone without a special interest in the NHS is unlikely to have even heard of it.

And, as we’re reporting this week, according to internal emails, the paediatric A&E at the Royal Free could close on September 21. That’s in less than a fortnight.

There are fears the first some parents will know of the change is when they turn up to the hospital with an unwell child in tow.

We need to see some transparency from health bosses.

It is vital that difficult decisions are open to scrutiny.