King George Hospital trust dismisses MP’s overnight closure claims

Matthew Hopkins, Chief Executive of Queen’s and King George hospitals

Matthew Hopkins, Chief Executive of Queens and King George hospitals - Credit: Archant

The trust running King George Hospital has insisted a timeline for downgrading the A&E has not yet been drawn up.

Last night Ilford North MP Wes Streeting claimed plans to close the A&E overnight were being considered by health commissioners.

But today, BHRUT (Barking, Havering and Redbridge University Hospitals Trust) said no changes were imminent.

Chief executive Matthew Hopkins said any plans would be discussed in full at the trust board and developed with partners.

He said: “The decision to make changes to A&E services locally was made and endorsed by the Secretary of State for Health as part of the Health for North East London programme to improve services for our local communities.

“This will involve investment in bolstering 24-hour, seven days a week urgent care services that will ensure the majority of people who attend A&E at King George will continue to be treated there, so the public can be reassured that if they arrived at the hospital they would be seen.”

The trust confirmed patients were still being taken to the A&E in Barley Lane, Goodmayes, overnight.

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Plans to downgrade the A&E to a 24-hour urgent care centre were made in 2010 by the primary care trust.

In May, Mr Hopkins told the Recorder planning for the downgrading was expected to begin in early 2016.

The trust, which remains in special measures, has previously said no changes would take place until clinically safe.

In the statement released today, Mr Hopkins said: “Before we can make any of those planned changes we have to show that it’s safe to do so and we are now looking at the assurance that can be provided and how we will implement the changes that have already been agreed.

“Overnight we believe people who are transported to A&E by ambulance will be safer being treated in a dedicated emergency centre, with a consolidated medical workforce and the backup of other emergency services.

“Of course any plans will be discussed in full at our board and will be developed with the help and support of our partners and with the people who use our services.”

Mr Hopkins said the trust was working to develop a “world class elective care centre” to improve capacity.

Mr Streeting has launched a new parliamentary petition and a public meeting is planned for Thursday, February 25, in the Lambourne Room at Redbridge Town Hall, Ilford.

He said: “Since the closure decision was taken we’ve seen significant population growth, both of our local NHS trusts have been placed in special measures and GPs have struggled to cope.

“We’re calling on the government to re-open the closure decision, look at the situation in north east London with a fresh pair of eyes and think again.

“Given how much time has passed since the closure plan was first mooted, it is not unreasonable to expect a fresh review and full public consultation before any changes to the A&E service at King George Hospital are made.”