Royal Free paediatric closures: Tulip Siddiq asks for ‘reassurance’ over A&E’s future, which could close as early as September 21
PUBLISHED: 11:15 09 September 2020 | UPDATED: 15:22 09 September 2020
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.
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READ MORE: Royal Free Hospital’s paediatric services to close temporarily over Winter as part of Covid-19 second wave planning
Ms 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.”
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.”
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”.
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