Hands Off Our Hospital: New Redbridge health chief A&E controversy

THE WOMAN taking command of Redbridge’s health trust has already presided over plans to close an A&E department.

With the future of the A&E at King George under threat, Averil Dongworth will be a key player in helping to make the plans a reality if they are given the go-ahead by the government.

But the health boss, who has been appointed chief executive of Barking, Havering and Redbridge University Hospitals NHS Trust (BHRUT), already has experience of devising a strategy to deal with an A&E’s closure.

Chase Farm Hospital in Enfield – part of Barnet and Chase Farm Hospitals Trust, which Mrs Dongworth ran for seven years – has its A&E earmarked for closure.

Earlier this year, Secretary of State for Health, Andrew Lansley, put the brakes on those proposals and ordered a clinical review.

In October the plans were endorsed by a panel of senior clinicians, and they are now at public consultation stage.

Interim chair of BHRUT, Edwin Doyle, said: “Averil has a wealth of experience in both hospital and out-of-hospital healthcare.

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“She brings with her experience in turning around a trust faced with very similar challenges to those we face at BHRUT.

“Her record in generating quality and financial improvements at Barnet and Chase Farm is tremendous. I look forward to her joining BHRUT.”

But Ilford South Labour MP Mike Gapes has voiced concerns about the appointment after her predecessor John Goulston was criticised for not being “robust” enough in protecting hospital services.

He said: “Given her involvement with the proposals for Chase Farm, she will presumably get rid of the A&E service at King George Hospital.”

Deborah Wheeler, executive director of nursing, is acting chief executive of the trust for the remainder of the month.

Mr Goulston, who has moved to a post as head of provider development for NHS London, has left at a time when BHRUT has a deficit of �117million.