Health trust’s error causes furore in Redbridge

The chief executive of an ME charity and angry sufferers of the condition have criticised minutes of a health trust meeting which say a hospital unit will be “de-commissioned”.

Sir Peter Spencer, chief executive of Action for ME, has joined Redbridge sufferers to complain about the minutes of the March board meeting of Barking Havering and Redbridge Hospital Trust.

In April, the trust told The Recorder the chronic fatigue syndrome unit, in Queen’s Hospital, Romford, was to be put into review, with a consultation period in which those affected could voice their concerns.

But a month earlier, in March, within the minutes of BHR’s Trust board meeting, the finance team stated: “The Trust is to de-commission its chronic fatigue service due to the retirement of the lead consultant.

“This service is currently provided on an exceptional treatment basis for both inpatients and outpatients and the inpatient service is not supported by local commissioners.”


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Barkingside sufferer Lindsey Gurrey, of Fencepiece Road, said she saw little reason now to give her views to the trust’s chief executive Averil Dongworth.

“This leaves me feeling concerned about the future. It looks as though their minds have already been made up, so what is the point in me writing letters?”

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BHRT apologised for any confusion caused by the minutes.

A spokesman said: “The Chief Executive briefed the Trust board on the review and consultation at its meeting in March, and this is clear in the board papers which we publish. The Trust’s finance report indicated that given the future of the service was uncertain, it would not be wise to rely on income for the CFS service during this year.

“However, this report was incorrect in referring to the decommissioning of this service.” Miss Gurrey’s sentiments were echoed by Clayhall sufferer Martin Arber, who said: “It seems clear that from the minutes of the trust on the March 29, they had already made the decision to close the unit, with no question of the closure taking place in May after the feedback period.” Sir Spencer said: “We read with astonishment and dismay that in the minutes of the trust’s board meeting, held on March 29, that it is to de-commission the chronic fatigue service due to the retirement of the lead consultants.

“This is a unique national facility that has been a vital resource for people with ME. To close it could have devastating consequences.”

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