Health commissioners warn new community teams could be under-threat if Wanstead Hospital ward closures are delayed


- Credit: Photo: Arnaud Stephenson

GP commissioners have said they are “extremely disappointed” after Redbridge Council agreed to refer Wanstead Hospital ward closure plans to Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt.

On Monday, the council’s health scrutiny committee agreed to call on Mr Hunt to send the CCG (clinical commissioning group) decision to axe intermediate care beds at the Makepeace Road site to the independent reconfiguration panel.

But following the meeting, the CCG hit back – warning the popular community teams already in place to provide intermediate care in people’s homes could be lost permanently if changes are delayed.

Dr Anil Mehta, chair of Redbridge CCG, said: “Thousands of Redbridge residents could lose out if we delay or stop setting up the Community Treatment Team (CTT) and Intensive Rehabilitation Service (IRS) permanently.

“These new services have helped more than 10,000 patients in the past year and, without that support, many of them would have ended up in A&E – which as we all know is already under considerable pressure – or needing more help from family and carers.

“Without CTT and IRS to help, patients may be more likely to need social care services which we estimate could cost local people around half a million pounds extra per year.

“The decision to ask the Secretary of State to refer the matter for review is especially disappointing as it had already been announced publicly a week before last night’s meeting.

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“Local GPs remain convinced of the case for changing intermediate care services. Patients are getting better care, they are recovering more quickly and they are very happy with the services. Under our proposals, anyone who needs a community rehab bed will still get one.

“Why would you want to stop that? A huge piece of work, planned by all health and social care partners in three boroughs – including Redbridge Council – is now at risk of unnecessary delay or even being stopped altogether.”

The CCG wants to close the Heronwood and Galleon wards in Wanstead and Gray’s Court in Dagenham, centralising services at King George Hospital – seeing overall bed numbers cut from 104 to between 40 and 61 depending on demand.

The plans were approved at a meeting in December following a 14-week consultation during which the CCG came under fire from campaigners who criticised the proposals and the consultation itself.

The group also warned a decision to delay or stop the closures could mean patients face longer waits, less choice, worse outcomes and a loss of independence.