Plans to axe Wanstead Hospital beds will leave ‘great big hole’

Plans to close Wanstead Hospital's Heronwood and Galleon wards have been criticised. Photo: Arnaud Stephenson

Plans to close Wanstead Hospital's Heronwood and Galleon wards have been criticised. Photo: Arnaud Stephenson - Credit: Photo: Arnaud Stephenson

Redbridge health commissioners were treated to a grilling from residents for nearly two hours last night at a public meeting over the future of Wanstead Hospital.

Members of Redbridge Clinical Commissioning Group (RCCG) were speaking at The George pub in Wanstead at the meeting, organised by the Wanstead and Snaresbrook Residents’ Alliance (WASRA).

The group, which commissions hospital services, was accused of taking “unnecessary risks” with its proposal to cut the number of intermediate care beds across Redbridge, Barking and Dagenham and Havering.

RCCG chairman Dr Anil Mehta, who works as a GP in Barkingside, said the plans were “not simply about reducing beds and cutting costs”.

“The quality of care we provide at the moment is not good enough,” he said.

He said the CCG wanted to “beef up” community care in the three boroughs.

The CCGs in Redbridge, Barking and Dagenham and Havering want to close intermediate care units at Wanstead Hospital and Gray’s Court in Dagenham and centralise the service at King George Hospital in Ilford.

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The service – which provides 24-hour care and rehabilitation for people after operations or illness – would see its hospital beds reduced from 104 to 40, with the option to expand to 61 when needed.

The CCGs have also introduced two community care teams, visiting patients in their own homes, which are already being trialed.

Leyton and Wanstead MP John Cryer said the consultation Making Intermediate Care Better was “deeply flawed” and criticised the group for refusing to extend it until the end of October.

He also hit out at the CCG for including its preferred option in the consultation questionnaire.

“As far as I’m concerned, that’s not a consultation,” he said.

“That’s trying to tell people what’s good for them.”

Mr Cryer said the three boroughs would be left with a “great big hole” and a lack of intermediate care beds.

“Making such radical changes to north east London health care with such an untried system is taking unnecessary risks with our future,” he added.

Asked what would happen to intermediate care patients outside of working hours, Redbridge CCG chief operating officer Louise Mitchell told the meeting patients could call NHS 111 and A&E.

“We know a lot of people go to A&E and we are trying to take that pressure off the acute hospitals,” she said.

And Caroline O’Donnell, Havering and BHR integrated care director of Nelft, said patients would not be at home if there was a risk of them needing to go to hospital suddenly overnight.

“Each patient is risk assessed before [the decision to treat them at home] is made,” she said

She said the teams should have up to 80 staff but the trust was currently having problems recruiting occupational therapists, which was a national problem.

The consultation ends on October 15. Visit to share your views.