Redbridge councillors hold protest over Barking, Havering and Redbridge NHS hospital trust’s A&E performance

A group of Redbridge Labour councillors, including council leader Cllr Jas Athwal, protesting agains

A group of Redbridge Labour councillors, including council leader Cllr Jas Athwal, protesting against the poor performance of local A&E services at Redbridge Town Hall. Photo: Redbridge Labour - Credit: Archant

Redbridge Council’s Labour administration held a formal protest at the borough’s town hall yesterday (Monday, November 26) over concerns about long waits at A&E departments in local hospitals.

A group of councillors, including Redbridge Council leader Jas Athwal and the borough’s cabinet member for health, Cllr Mark Santos, gathered on the steps of the building in Ilford High Road to mark the release of an open letter, calling for urgent action to be taken to improve services.

Penned by Cllr Neil Zammett, chairman of the council’s health scrutiny committee, the letter is addressed to Chris Bown, BHRUT’s chief executive, and highlights concerns regarding a downward trend in the hospitals’ A&E performance over the last two years.

Redbridge Labour claims these figures show it is likely that performance at the trust’s emergency departments will dip below 60pc over the coming winter months.

Cllr Zammett said “There is a serious downward trend in local NHS service provisions over the past three years and we had the worst September on record this year, some 10 percentage points lower than the previous two years.

“We have serious concerns that there will be further drops in performance over the winter period, and this would severely affect Redbridge residents.”

Cllr Athwal added: ““It is essential that our local hospital trust prepares adequately for the usual winter pressures hitting our hospitals over Christmas and the new year.”

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The Barking, Havering and Redbridge NHS University Hospital Trust (BHRUT), which runs Queen’s Hospital in Romford and King George Hospital in Goodmayes, insists that treating patients safely, to a high standard and as quickly as possible remains its focus, but pointed out that it was currently dealing with a record number of patients year-on-year.

It further reiterated that patients seen in emergency departments are treated in order of need, and that some patients who are brought in by ambulance may be recorded as waiting longer, as they are being treated while a bed is found for them, but during that time they still receive the same level of healthcare.

Shelagh Smith, chief operating officer, said: “We, along with the rest of the NHS, are under extreme pressure and have seen the number of patients attending our emergency departments rise significantly.

“Not only are we seeing a higher number of patients year on year, the patients coming to us are sicker and require more intensive treatment.

“This is demonstrated by the increased number of people coming to our emergency departments via ambulance.

“We already receive 50 per cent more ambulances than any other trust in London.

“Our priority is to provide our patients with safe, high quality care, as quickly as possible.

“To help us to improve our ambulance handover times, we are expanding our rapid assessment and focused treatment area at Queen’s Hospital, adding two additional cubicles as well as a dedicated seating area for those who are able to sit.

“This will give our patients a much better overall experience.

“We will also continue to work closely with all of our local healthcare partners throughout the winter and beyond to ensure local people are getting the care they need in the right place.

“Everyone in our community has a role to play.

“That’s why we urge people to think very carefully before coming to our emergency departments, and to only do so in a real emergency, such as choking, chest pain, blackouts or severe blood loss.”

Cllr Athwal and Cllr Santos will also be requesting an urgent meeting with Mr Bown to discuss the trust’s performance and plans the trust has in place to ensure the continued health and safety of vulnerable residents.