Doubt cast on plans to downgrade King George A&E in Goodmayes

Public demonstration outside Redbridge Town Hall urging councillors to oppose the NHS's current sust

Public demonstration outside Redbridge Town Hall urging councillors to oppose the NHS's current sustainability and transformation plan which would close King George Hospital's A&E department. - Credit: Archant

The future of King George Hospital’s A&E department is once again unclear, after its trust’s chief executive cast doubt on the closure plans.

Speaking to the Recorder on Tuesday, after health inspectors announced that Barking, Havering and Redbridge University Hospitals NHS Trust (BHRUT) had come out of special measures, Matthew Hopkins said: “There are still a lot decisions to be made.”

The department, in Barley Lane, Goodmayes, was earmarked to be changed to an urgent care unit in 2006, and last year a date was scheduled for summer 2019.

Protesters have been campaigning against the closure, and believed this would begin once King George’s trust, BHRUT, came out of special measures.

However Mr Hopkins made it clear the two events were not linked.

“The key question is how we are going to meet the real need to expand the A&E department here in Queen’s,” he said.

He explained the capacity at the Romford hospital’s emergency unit would have to be increased for King George’s A&E to close, and at the moment it is overused and funding isn’t available.

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The Recorder understands that the planned closure in summer 2019 is now unlikely to go ahead.

In Redbridge, an inquiry by a cross-party panel of councillors will now examine the plans for the A&E department at King George Hospital.

It will be chaired by Ilford North MP and Aldborough councillor Wes Streeting, with senior representation from Conservative councillors Paul Canal and Sue Nolan.

The working group will consider written and oral evidence and also seek to hold a public meeting before submitting a report to Redbridge Council’s health scrutiny committee.

Mr Streeting said: “It is very clear that the closure plan agreed in 2011 isn’t worth the paper it’s written on.

“The challenge for ministers and local NHS managers is to look at the challenges facing our health service today with a fresh pair of eyes and look serious at the alternatives available to losing the emergency department at King George Hospital.

“That’s why I’m leading a cross-party inquiry into the future of A&E provision and why I’m urging the public to make their voices heard by signing the parliamentary petition and joining us on the march to save King George A&E on March 18.”