Friday 13 July 2012

Will Brent Council take on the fight to save Central Middlesex A&E?

In a recent posting I called on Brent Council to take a proactive stance in fighting the proposals for closure of the Central Middlesex Hospital (Park Royal) Accident and Emergency. Ealing Council have already take up such a position.

A resolution at the last Brent Council meeting proposed by Cllr Krupesh Hirani (Lead member for Health and adult Care) didn't quite do that but was a step in the right direction.

This Council condemns the Tory and Liberal Democrat Government for the lack of consideration to Brent residents over the likely closure of Accident and Emergency (A&E) services at the Central Middlesex Hospital, which will lead to people in the poorest part of Brent, having to travel longer distances to address life threatening imminent needs.
Brent Labour recently had a meeting on the NHS which was addressed by  Fiona Twycross, a Labour Assembly Member for London. Perhaps a more militant stance will emerge from that meeting. Is is certainly something the Council should be doing on behalf of its citizens.

Meanwhile at the Willesden Area Consultation Forum the item on 'Shaping a Healthier Future'  was curtailed because Dr Mark Spencer who was giving the talk had another meeting to attend. The result was a rush through a PowerPoint presentation and very little time for elaboration, questions or discussions. Neither Spencer or Abbas Mirza (Communications Engagement Manager for NHS North West London, were available to speak to residents at the break. This was scandalous given the far-reaching and poentially life and death issues being discussed. At the beginning of the presentation Mirza said, 'these are just proposals - nothing has been decided'  but in response to a question from me, Spencer confirmed that there was no option to keep Central Middlesex A and E open. Clearly its closure has been decided ahead of consultation.

Dr Spencer claimed that the A and E at Centrtal Middlesex was under-used, that many who did use it, used it wrongly and would be catered for by other proposals. He said that the privately run (by Care UK) Urgent Care Centre could answer most emergency needs. Central Middlesex Hospital would eventually become a 'localised' hospital for planned admissions only.  Asked by an audience member which A and E they could go to instead, he said that that was a decision they could make for themselves. I am sure I will enjoy exercising that choice when I next get knocked off my bike!

Earlier in the meeting I did a Soapbox where I publicised the campaign that has been formed to oppose the closure of Central Middlesex Hospital A and E and the hospital's run-down and the defend the NHS against cuts and privatisation. We will be marching from Harlesden to Central Middlesex Hospital on Saturday September 15th to buiold support for the campaign. It would be great of Labour councillors joined us.

In my Soapbox speech I said that losing an Accident and Emergency ward was often the first chapter in the running down and eventual closure of a hospital. As a qualified first-aider in  local schools I had often had recourse to Central Mid A and E for ill and injured pupils and knew of its worth. 

I pointed out the need for a  A and E in this poorest part of the borough that would be readily accessible to local residents who were reliant on public transport. Public transport links with Northwick Park Hospital (the proposed alternative A and E) were very poor.

The local area has many possible sites for major incidents requiring A and E and emergency operation facilities. These include the main Euston-Birmingham Railway line, the Bakerloo and Overground Line, Chiltern Line and Jubilee/Metropolitan. Major Roads including the North Circular, Harrow Road and Kilburn High Road. Large industrial areas in Park Royal and around Neasden Goods Yard and the major venues of Wembley Stadium and Wembley Arena.  Accidents at any of these places could involve many people requiring emergency treatment or hospital admission. Could the reduced provision of A and E cope?

Cllr Lesley Jones, who was chairing the meeting, said that the council had been pressurising Transport for London to extend the 18 bus route to Northwick Park for a long time and would continue to do so.

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