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King George A&E ‘will still be closed’ despite soaring demand

PUBLISHED: 11:36 11 July 2013 | UPDATED: 11:42 11 July 2013

The A&E department at King George Hospital is still set for the axe, despite new figures showing soaring demand.

Between April 2012 and March this year, 17,667 ambulances were taken to the hospital in Barley Lane, Goodmayes – up two percent on the year before.

And more people in Redbridge needed urgent care than ever before, with paramedics attending 14,152 incidents where patients had life-threatening illnesses or injuries.

The figure was 14 per cent higher than the previous year and the number of potentially fatal incidents has been steadily rocketing in the last four years from just 10,500 in 2009/10.

When the A&E at King George closes, many calls will be diverted to Queen’s Hospital in Romford, which is already the busiest in London.

The department receives 110 ambulances a day on average – amounting to nearly 40,000 in the last financial year.

The figure is a 15 per cent increase on 2011/12.

Ambulances account for a fraction of the traffic to casualty units, which typically see thousands of patients through the door each week.

But the revelation that the troubled Queen’s A&E has experienced London’s biggest increase in ambulance referrals this year raises questions about how London Ambulance Service (LAS) decides where to take acutely ill patients.

LAS’s assistant director of operations Paul Gates explained: “Queen’s is the only A&E department in the borough.

“The nearest alternative, King George, does not accept certain patients – for example, paediatrics and maternity patients.”

In 2012/13, LAS took nearly 40,000 people to the Romford hospital but combined with King George, it was the slowest in London.

Last week, 90.6 per cent of A&E patients at the hospitals run by the Barking, Havering and Redbridge University Hospitals NHS Trust (BHRUT) were seen within the government’s four-hour target.

The Department of Health expects hospitals to see at least 95 per cent of visitors within that time.

Chief executive Averil Dongworth said: “Reducing waits for patients in the emergency department is our highest priority.

“We are working hard to recruit more permanent staff.”

A date has not been set for the closure of King George’s emergency department, which cannot be shut until Queen’s is ready.

A health watchdog issued a damning report into the Romford hospital’s A&E earlier this week, which found it was failing standards including welfare and staffing.

MPs called on the government to reverse the decision to close King George’s emergency department following the findings.

Ilford North MP Lee Scott said: “We know any changes at King George Hospital have been kicked into the long grass, but I want that made permanent.”

Ilford South MP Mike Gapes said: “The closure decision was always very risky and it’s become increasingly clear that it’s absolutely insane.

“Queen’s is clearly not ready and the way things are going, it never will be.”


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