Ilford MPs take health minister to task over the future of King George A&E
PUBLISHED: 11:05 11 July 2017 | UPDATED: 11:05 11 July 2017
The future of King George Hospital’s A&E department remains no clearer after a parliamentary debate saw Ilford’s MPs grill health minister Philip Dunne last night.
Ilford South MP Mike Gapes secured the end of day adjournment debate in the House of Commons yesterday on the future of the A&E department at the hospital, in Barley Lane, Goodmayes,
The debate saw Mr Gapes take the minister to task over the Sustainability and Transformation Plan (STP), signed off in 2011 by then health secretary Andrew Lansley, which outlined plans to replace the A&E with an urgent care unit.
Numerous issues, such as a £586million healthcare funding deficit in north east London, plans to further slash the budget and a predicted 18pc population increase over the next 15 years were outlined by Mr Gapes.
He also highlighted the fact that, during the general election campaign earlier this year, health secretary Jeremy Hunt had promised King George’s A&E will not close “for the forseeable future”.
Mr Gapes said: “I do not know how big the crystal ball is. I do not know what kind of telescope the secretary of state has and which end he is looking through.
“The fact is that ‘foreseeable’ does not necessarily mean that the A&E will not close in 2019. If it is not going to close in the near future or even in the medium term, why not lift the cloud of uncertainty over the staff and over the planning process?”
Throughout the 30-minute debate Mr Dunne would not be drawn on, as he put it, “second guessing the conclusions of the STP”.
But the minister did congratulate BHRUT on getting out of special measures in March, but told Mr Gapes the STP system had been introduced “to encourage a more holistic approach to the future provision of NHS services”.
The health minister added: “We are absolutely clear that any significant service change that arises out of the implementation of STPs, if they get to that stage, must be subject to full public consultation.
“Proposals must meet the government’s four reconfiguration tests, which are support from clinical commissioners, clarity on the clinical evidence base, robust patient and public engagement, and support for patient choice.”
Ilford North MP Wes Streeting also attended, and told the health minister of the frustrations in Redbridge that healthcare groups are working towards a plan agreed more than five years ago.
Mr Streeting said: “I hope that the minister might be able to reverse that ministerial decision and remove the sword of Damocles from our A&E department.”
When pressed by Mr Streeting whether those in charge of the STP process would be forced to abide by the 2011 decision, Mr Dunne appeared to indicate that was not the case.
He said: “The process should be informed by the decisions taken in 2010, but it will be up to today’s STP leadership to decide what to do.”