Saturday 30 March 2019

We should learn lessons from the huge victory won by Ealing and Charing Cross hospital campaigners

Hammersmith and Fulham Council's campaigning video

Amidst the distraction of the Brexit farrago a statement was slipped out in the House of Commons last Tuesday of great significance for everyone campaigning to save the NHS and against austerity cuts to public services.

The Secretary of State announced the decision with many a swipe at the local MPs (starts with Karen Buck's question):

A key factor in  the campaign was how Hammersmith and Fulham Council got behind the local community and hopsital campaigners and devoted resources to savinf their local hospital A&E. Unfortunately the Shaping the Healthier Future plans that led to the closure of the A&E  at Central Middlesex Hospital, although well fought.,were implemented and the A&E is still missed today, particuarly by residents in the Park Royal, Harlesden and Stonebridge areas.

Save our Hospitals Hammersmith and Fulham said:

The Secretary of Health Matt Hancock announced on March 26th that the closure plans for both Charing Cross and Ealing hospitals contained in the cuts & closures plan known as Shaping A Healthier Future have been withdrawn.  We’ve won. It’s not been easy taking on a well funded posse of spin doctors, management consultants and political ideologues but many thousands of people have done just that and after a 7 year fight we’ve stopped a closure plan that was downright dangerous. Everyone has done their bit whether that’s signing petitions, challenging bureaucrats in meetings, running street stalls, demonstrating, fundraising or delivering & displaying posters. We should feel really proud of ourselves and celebrate our collective achievement.

Of course there are still huge problems: The £30m primary & community cuts planned for H&F, the state of disrepair in our hospitals, on going understaffing & under resourcing coupled with the threat of privatisation by the likes of Babylon and Virgin. Some may have seen the laughable attempts of local conservative MPs and councillors to claim responsibility for a victory they have consistently done their best to sabotage  It’s also true that the government could change it’s mind and come back with new closure plans in the future.

So we’ll have to keep campaigning - we’ve proven today that campaigning works. But for now let’s just celebrate a victory won by lots of different people (including you) working together to Save Charing Cross Hospital.

Kind Regards AD(SOH chair)

Ealing Save Our NHS said:

Finally, the Government has admitted the horrible ‘Shaping a Healthier Future Plan’ (SAHF) is not workable!

Former NHS England chief executive Sir David Nicholson had called these plans “the most significant reconfiguration project in the country”. But since they first announced SAHF plans to cut nine major hospitals in North West London down to five, Ealing Save Our NHS has been campaigning against it side by side with many others including Save Our Hospitals Charing Cross and the Councils in Ealing and Hammersmith & Fulham. SAHF spent tens of millions of pounds of NHS cash on management consultants. All for nothing. 

Now Secretary of State for Health, Matt Hancock, has announced the Department of Health no longer supports it. Ealing Save Our NHS has distributed a quarter of a million leaflets, held protests, attended carnivals, organised parties, lobbies, petitions, car convoys and much more to spell out the truth. On the other side huge amounts of NHS money was spent on public relations staff and glossy leaflets to pretend that our health would mysteriously be improved if they closed A&E’s and hundreds of beds. It didn’t work.

So what will happen now? Ealing Save Our NHS will keep on campaigning. This disastrous SAHF plan has seen the closure of two local A&Es, Central Middlesex and Hammersmith, as well as the closure of Ealing A&E to children. As a direct consequence, waiting times for Type 1 urgent A&E visits increased greatly. Ealing Hospital’s excellent maternity department was also closed, forcing Ealing mothers to travel long distances and negatively effecting continuity of care for many.

But health bosses appear to have learned nothing and continue to defend the indefensible. Mark Easton, the head of the North West London Clinical Commissioning Groups, in announcing the death of SAHF has just made the mind-boggling claim that maternity care and emergency paediatric care have improved. This is certainly not the view of local parents whose local services have closed. Ealing Hospital remains seriously underfunded and in crisis. But at least there is a ray of sunshine, the horrible plan underlying all these cuts has gone and we can focus on calling for proper funding and restoration of local health services.

Dr Tony O’Sullivan, Co-Chair of Keep Our NHS Public added,

This is a very important victory for the people of Ealing and Hammersmith & Fulham. Campaigners must be proud of themselves for standing up for the NHS and their local communities for 7 long years – with integrity, skill and huge impact. Elections unseated the council backing closure of Charing Cross and the Ealing MP backing government attacks on the local NHS and public services. Campaigners won the local councils to their side and refused to give in to the irresponsible plans of ‘Shaping A Healthier Future’ in North West London. Well done and thank you. The battles are not over. We are with you in your fight to restore the damage done and win back maternity and children’s services in Ealing Hospital.

Hammersmith and Fulham Council said:

We did it together! The government has finally been forced to retreat on closing Charing Cross Hospital.

Thanks to Save Our Hospitals campaigners, Michael Mansfield QC (who ran the independent commission that provided such unchallengable evidence against the plans) and to the many, many residents who have fought with us so hard and for so long.

Council Leader, Cllr Stephen Cowan says: “This is a huge validation of Michael Mansfield QC’s findings and a huge victory for the Save Our Hospitals campaign. Thank you to all the residents who worked with us to save Charing Cross Hospital.”

Statement from North West London CCG (26 March 2019): “We will not be taking forward the plans as set out in SaHF for changes to Ealing and Charing Cross hospitals.”

What was planned?

We’ve won the battle to save Charing Cross Hospital from proposals to demolish most of it and replace its A&E with an urgent care clinic – leaving just 13 per cent the size of the original hospital.

·      We joined forces with local residents and with Ealing Council, who have been fighting the closure of Ealing Hospital

·      We commissioned a public inquiry led by Michael Mansfield QC that has provided a strong evidence base for why the proposals are wrong. Read the full report here.

·      We’ve refused to sign the ‘North West London STP’ – because it restates the plan to reduce acute services from nine major hospitals to five.

·      We commissioned a review of the NHS proposals and the STP – Read the review (pdf 4MB).

·      We’ve held scrutiny meetings to publicly quiz NHS managers on their plans

·      We’ve invited local people to public meetings, rallies and demonstrations

·      We’ve presented petitions and published individual residents’ own experiences and stories

·      We’ve kept local people updated on the campaign through letters, leaflets, posters and social media.

The current much-loved Charing Cross Hospital was to be replaced with an urgent care centre, diagnostics and out-patients only.

The NHS plan included:

·      Demolishing the current Charing Cross Hospital and selling off most the site

·      Replacing the current Charing Cross Hospital with a series of clinics on a site no more than 13 per cent the size of the current hospital

·      Replacing the current A&E with an urgent care clinic

·      Losing more than 300 and possibly all the acute care beds

·      The detail on the proposals is in the NHS Case for Change.


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