Health secretary referral being ‘actively looked at’ in Wanstead Hospital row

Residents attended a meeting about Wanstead Hospital's future. Pic: Thomas Thorn

Residents attended a meeting about Wanstead Hospital's future. Pic: Thomas Thorn - Credit: Archant

Redbridge Council is “actively looking at” referring the decision over Wanstead Hospital’s future to health secretary Jeremy Hunt.

The Wanstead and Snaresbrook Residents’ Alliance (WASRA) is fighting against plans to close the Heronwood and Galleon intermediate care wards at the site.

At a public meeting at Wanstead Library on Monday, WASRA’s Helen Zammett said the group would be lobbying Redbridge Council to write to the secretary of state to ask him to refer the proposals to the independent reconfiguration panel if they are approved.

Mrs Zammett told the meeting the reconfiguration panel “specialises in controversial proposals”.

And following the meeting, Cllr Wes Streeting, cabinet member for health and wellbeing, confirmed making a referral was something the scrutiny committee was “actively looking at”.

He said: “We are all acutely aware of the serious concerns that have been raised by residents about the substance of the proposals, but also the way in which the consultation has taken place.

“The most important thing is we get the right approach that improves health outcomes for residents, particularly at a time when they are vulnerable and need to recover.” More than 50 residents attended the event, organised by patients’ watchdog Healthwatch Redbridge to give feedback to the clinical commissioning group (CCG) ahead of the end of the consultation on Wednesday.

Most Read

The CCG’s governing body is expected to decide on the plans in December, after which the council’s health and wellbeing scrutiny committee would consider referring the decision to the secretary of state.

The CCG wants to cut the number of intermediate care beds – which provide intense rehabilitation for people after illnesses and operations – across Redbridge, Havering and Barking and Dagenham from 104 to 40, with the option to go up to 61 during busy periods.

The new unit would be centralised at King George Hospital in Barley Lane, Goodmayes.

The CCG claims the full number of beds are not necessary, with more patients being treated at home by two new community teams.

But plans have met opposition from campaigners who fear the boroughs need more beds due to its ageing and increasing population.