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Has King George Hospital’s A&E been saved from closure?

PUBLISHED: 12:56 29 January 2019

King George Hospital, in Goodmayes.

King George Hospital, in Goodmayes.

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The answer is still – no. But Redbridge’s healthcare bosses are drawing up proposals for how emergency care can continue to be provided at King George Hospital for the next three years at least.

Various options for retaining emergency services at the Barley Lane hospital will begin to be developed in spring and will need to be greenlit by a number of different health authorities and regulators.

Rebridge’s Hospital Trust (BHRUT) and clinical commissioning group (CCG) - the body responsible for funding health services - released a joint statement in response to the Recorder’s request for clarity on the emergency department’s future.

“We all agree that the original proposals for King George A&E need to be looked at again as part of a wider review of BHRUT’s clinical strategy,” reads the statement from the CCG’s accountable officer Jane Milligan and BHRUT interim chief executive Chris Bown.

“We can’t prejudge the results of that work, but we are very clear that it will set out options as to how emergency care will be provided from King George hospital in the future.”

It added that the review will look at the “future shape of both Queen’s and King George hospitals” for the next three years, and beyond, in the context of “wider, integrated health and care strategy for our area”.

The proposals will develop “a full programme of engagement with local people and other stakeholders” and must be agreed by “the local NHS and its partners as well as our regulators”.

The Recorder understands the regulators are NHS England and NHS England Improvement and that no timeframe has been set to decide on the proposals.

MPs and councillors across a number of political parties have released statements welcoming the anticipated salvation of the Goodmayes A&E ward at a meeting of east London CCGs on Thursday, January 31.

Ilford South MP Mike Gapes said: “At last we can now see the light at the end of the tunnel.

“Once the decision is taken to lift the threat of closure we can have sensible planning of better health and social care facilities on the King George site and continuing emergency provision must be an essential part of that.”

In a separate statement, Redbridge Council leader Jas Athwal said: “After years of hard work I am overjoyed that the government is finally listening.

“King George A&E provides a vital service here in Redbridge and it is only just and fair that it remain open. Residents deserve the security of knowing their A&E is close by in times of need.”

Redbridge Conservatives told the Recorder they are similarly confident the A&E will be saved and the decision to close it will be reversed.

The borough’s London Assembly Member Keith Prince said: “I am delighted that the decision to close King George Hospital’s A&E will be reviewed and confident that it will be saved.”

Conservative group leader Cllr Linda Huggett added: “It is vital that with services at Queens reaching overcapacity and the proposed Whipps Cross redevelopment taking place that keeping the A&E and emergency care at King Georges is the only viable solution.”

They reiterated their party’s involvement in campaigning to save the ward.

But health campaigner Andy Walker is less optimistic about the A&E’s future.

He said: “It baffles me as to why Councillor Athwal is saying the King George Hospital A&E has been saved. It is no such thing.”

“No NHS manager has said that the King George A&E is going to continue.

“They have only said they are reviewing the situation.”

He added: “The campaign continues - there has been no lifting of the threat.”

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