King George Hospital A&E closure nears as hospitals reveal possible date for overnight closure

BHRUT chief executive Matthew Hopkins.

BHRUT chief executive Matthew Hopkins. - Credit: BHRUT

The ball is finally rolling on long-rumoured plans to close the A&E at King George Hospital, as the date when overnight closure could become a reality has been revealed.

Documents obtained by the Recorder suggest that Barking, Havering and Redbridge University Hospitals Trust (BHRUT) now has a date for neighbouring hospitals to be adequately prepared for “acute reconfiguration” – the overnight closure of the emergency department at the hospital in Barley Lane, Goodmayes.

As has long been reported, the closure will take place in two phases, the ceasing of night-time emergency services – which could happen as early as September 2017 – followed by the permanent closure of the A&E, to be replaced by an Urgent Care Centre.

The document reads: “Further to the completion of detailed impact analysis in early summer 2016, Barts Health confirmed plans that would create the necessary capacity at Whipps Cross and Newham hospitals by September 2017 to accommodate phase one.”

However, BHRUT chief executive Matthew Hopkins insisted no final timeline for the closure of the emergency department had been determined.

“We are working with our partners to see what is feasible,” he said.

“We are currently still working through our plans together with our partners, and before any changes could be made to our emergency department at King George Hospital we would need to make sure it was safe to do so.”

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Mr Hopkins, who joined the trust in April 2014, also stressed that the closure, which has been agreed by health secretary Jeremy Hunt, would be conducted openly.

“The final decision to implement the changes would need to be made at our board and CCG governing body meetings, which are held publicly, following a robust series

of reviews carried out by an independent team, including senior doctors and GPs.”

Ilford South MP Mike Gapes told the Recorder he was “extremely concerned” about plans to begin shutting down King George’s emergency services departments prematurely.

“I know they are planning to go ahead with their plans to close the A&E as soon as they come out of special measures, but to do so without being certain they have built extra capacity into the emergency department at Queen’s is wrong.

“It will be an absolute disaster and will have a knock-on effect on all the hospitals in our area if it is done before they are all ready, not just Queen’s.

“September 2017 seems totally unrealistic to me.”

NHS England’s sustainability and transformation plan for north-east London, which is believed to contain further details of plans to close

King George Hospital’s A&E, was submitted for formal consideration late last month.