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Tulip Siddiq demands Health Secretary guarantee over long-term future of Royal Free Hospital’s children’s A&E

PUBLISHED: 18:18 21 September 2020 | UPDATED: 18:18 21 September 2020

MP for Hampstead and Kilburn Tulip Siddiq is worried about children's welfare during the pandemic. Picture: Lauren Hurley/PA

MP for Hampstead and Kilburn Tulip Siddiq is worried about children's welfare during the pandemic. Picture: Lauren Hurley/PA

PA Archive/PA Images

The health secretary has agreed to meet with Hampstead and Kilburn MP Tulip Siddiq after she called on him to assure that the forthcoming temporary closure of the Royal Free Hospital’s children’s A&E would be temporary.

The Royal Free's paediatric services are to close with the Whittington and Great Ormond Street picking up the slack as part of a reorganisation for winter 2020-2021 amid Covid-19 'second wave' planning. Picture: Sam VolpeThe Royal Free's paediatric services are to close with the Whittington and Great Ormond Street picking up the slack as part of a reorganisation for winter 2020-2021 amid Covid-19 'second wave' planning. Picture: Sam Volpe

Ms Siddiq told the House of Commons on Monday afternoon how she had first-hand experience of how vital a service it was as she addressed health secretary Matt Hancock.

She said: “Last year I was faced with every parent’s nightmare as I rushed my small baby to the children’s A&E at the Royal Free Hospital in my constituency because he wasn’t breathing.

READ MORE: Whittington Hospital to be ‘coronavirus-free’

READ MORE: Top Royal Free doctor warns Covid-19 second wave ‘inevitable’

“The doctors and nurses saved his life. The same children’s A&E will now be closed temporarily from next month because of the pressure that Covid-19 will put on the NHS over the winter.”

The MP asked for a “cast iron guarantee” that the NHS was given the necessary resources to ensure that the closure is “strictly temporary”.

Health secretary Matt Hancock. Photograph: Jonathan Brady, PA Wire/PA Images.Health secretary Matt Hancock. Photograph: Jonathan Brady, PA Wire/PA Images.

Mr Hancock responded: “Of course I’d be very happy to work with the honourable lady on this question. We do have to make sure that our hospitals are Covid secure, but I would be very happy to meet her and discuss the specifics of the Royal Free.”

From September 25, the children’s A&E will be closed and the equivalent facility at the Whittington Hospital expanded as part of a number of changes to hospital provision in north London.

Decided by the North London Partners (NLP) NHS group, the plans will also see inpatient children’s services move away from the Royal Free’s Hampstead site.

It has been revealed that the Whittington will become a “coronavirus-free” hospital as part of the reorganisation.

Members of staff at the Royal Free have raised concerns that the move is part of a “larger plan” to alter NHS services in London, but NLP has stressed the changes are to last “throughout the winter”.

They are designed to increase local NHS resilience and ensure patient safety with a second wave of coronavirus imminent.


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