Royal Free paediatric closures: Tulip Siddiq asks for ‘reassurance’ over A&E’s future, which could close as early as September 21
- Credit: Archant
Hampstead and Kilburn MP Tulip Siddiq has “raised concerns” over the planned closure of the children’s A&E at the Royal Free – which could close as soon as September 21, this newspaper understands.
Closing the A&E temporarily over the winter is part of a wider reorganisation of children’s health services in north London, designed to “increase resilience” in case of a second wave of coronavirus.
The majority of paediatric services at the hospital will be moved – with the Whittington Hospital in Archaway expanding its children’s emergency provision and Great Ormond Street Children’s Hospital picking up some of the slack too.
A Royal Free source told this newspaper senior staff have discussed September 21 as a “likely” date for the temporary closure of the paediatric A&E.
A date for both the closure of the A&E and of inpatient services was not confirmed by the North London Partners in health and care (NLP) group, when approached.
READ MORE: Royal Free Hospital’s paediatric services to close temporarily over Winter as part of Covid-19 second wave planningMs Siddiq told the Ham&High: “I know from taking my own children to the Royal Free A&E how valuable this service has been, and it is important that any reduction in service due to coronavirus is temporary and does not harm patient safety.”
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She added that she had been in touch with health bosses about the impact of the wide-ranging changes to hospital care.
She said: “I have been raising questions and concerns about the impact and communication of these changes, as well as seeking reassurances about the long-term future of this vital A&E.”
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After a review of health services in north London by the NLP, it was decided to cluster paediatric services around two hubs in NLP’s area – the five boroughs of Camden, Haringey, Barnet, Enfield and Islington.
The southern hub will be at the Whittington, where paediatric A&E will expand to meet forecast demand, while Barnet Hospital’s children’s A&E services have already reopened, having been shut between March and late August. Kids’ A&E at UCLH in Euston has been shut since March and will remain so.
Staff at the Royal Free have raised concerns about the temporary closure being a “fait accompli” and one senior consultant worried this was indicative of a “preferred long-term direction of travel”.