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‘Madness’ to close King George Hospital A&E as ambulance demand rising

PUBLISHED: 13:05 12 February 2013 | UPDATED: 13:05 12 February 2013

While debate has raged over the possible closure of the A&E department at King George Hospital and the failures at Queen’s, ambulance calls to the Goodmayes hospital have been increasing.

In 2011, 17,155 patients were taken to the hospital in Barley Lane by ambulance and last year the number rose by 4 per cent to 17,832. “Blue calls”, needing lights and sirens, made up 879 of those.

The figures from the London Ambulance Service showed that journeys to A&E at Queen’s were substantially higher, at 37,705, with 2,738 “blue calls”. A spokesman said patients were increasingly being taken to specialist centres rather than the nearest hospitals for the “best level of care”.

Ilford North MP Lee Scott says the increase in “real terms” could be larger because stroke and trauma patients are now being taken to Queen’s.

He added: “These figures prove that A&E is needed at King George and should stay at King George.”

Queen’s Hospital, in Romford, would take on extra patients if it were to close.

But in a report published last month, the Care Quality Commission found its patients waiting more than 11 hours, diagnosis information on display and a lack of consultants, among other problems.

In the Commons last week, Ilford South MP Mike Gapes called on the government to reverse the decision to close A&E at King George Hospital in the wake of the findings.

He said: “If the problems at Queen’s continue, it would be insane to go ahead with the proposals to close King George’s A&E.”

Cllr Andy Walker, of the Save King George Hospital campaign, dubbed the continuing closure plans “the madness of closing King George”.

He added: “When you’re dealing with thousands of cases, it’s inevitable that mistakes will happen but the more pressure you pile on a service, the more likely mistakes are.”

A spokesman for NHS North East London and the City said no changes would be made at King George “until it is safe to do so”.

He added: “This is about improving things for patients and, in order to provide higher quality, safer care, with 24/7 senior doctor presence on A&E departments, we plan to concentrate emergency services in fewer hospitals.

“We will also make sure that urgent care services across all hospitals are fully utilised so we can help people get the right care in the right place at the right time.”

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