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Seven options - and two would close A&E

PUBLISHED: 12:12 11 February 2010 | UPDATED: 16:45 07 September 2010

NORTH Central London NHS has now published a series of seven scenarios for the future of Whittington Hospital. The scenarios cover hospitals in Camden, Haringey, Barnet, Islington and Enfield and four of the options would leave the Whittington without a 2

NORTH Central London NHS has now published a series of seven scenarios for the future of Whittington Hospital.

The scenarios cover hospitals in Camden, Haringey, Barnet, Islington and Enfield and four of the options would leave the Whittington without a 24-hour A&E. Of these, two would see it operating a 16-hour A&E, while the remaining two would leave it without one at all.

In a meeting with the Ham&High, NCL's programme director Stephen Conroy, pictured, said the proposals were driven by safety and quality of care. But he added that - unless hospital services changed - the north central sector would find itself with a shortfall of half a billion pounds by 2017.

Currently too many hospitals were competing to provide the same services and, at present, London suffered from inequalities in healthcare depending on geographical areas and social issues, he said.

He added: "There are 1.25million people living in north central London and it shouldn't be the case that people living near a good hospital or school get better treatment or education."

Mr Conroy regretted that an NHS memo suggesting the Whittington would definitely lose its A&E was leaked last year and it was far too early to have made any decisions about the hospital's future.

He said: "We are at the stage where we want to have extensive engagement with patients' groups, politicians and so on. That was our plan - we didn't want to create anxiety."

The rationale behind the proposals is to centralise specialist services like A&E and stroke units, while building health centres in the community that will be able to offer routine care to patients, he said. This relies on London's ambulance service being able to reach people quickly and deliver them to hospitals with specialist services regardless of where they live.

NCL's senior clinical adviser Gillian Greenhough said: "The reality is that services in NHS London have to change. Fifty per cent of the people in casualty don't need to be there."

The decision on the future of the health services is expected to go out for formal consultation in September.

The earliest a final decision could be made is March or April 2011 - but the likelihood is it will take much longer to implement the plans, said Mr Conroy.

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