Row over ‘misleading and biased’ Wanstead Hospital consultation

Intermediate care beds on the Heronwood and Galleon Unit could be moved to King George Hospital. Pho

Intermediate care beds on the Heronwood and Galleon Unit could be moved to King George Hospital. Photo: Arnaud Stephenson - Credit: Photo: Arnaud Stephenson

Health bosses have defended their consultation on the future of Wanstead Hospital following criticism from a health watchdog.

The listening exercise sought the views of the public on plans to axe beds on the Heronwood and Galleon Unit and centralise intermediate care services at King George Hospital.

Proposals from a consortium of north-east London clinical commissioning groups (CCGs) would see the number of intermediate care beds in Redbridge, Havering and Barking and Dagenham cut from 104 to 40 – with the option to expand to 61 when needed.

Intermediate care includes services aimed at aiding rehabilitation for people after operations or illness. At Wanstead Hospital, that care is provided around the clock.

Watchdog Healthwatch Redbridge, the official voice of NHS patients, criticised the Making Intermediate Care Better consultation, saying: “The questionnaire was misleading and included biased statements.”

Healthwatch Redbridge chief executive officer Cathy Turland added: “We are concerned about the consultation and the process used – and the level of publicity.

“We’re not convinced that members of the public had the full knowledge of what it was about.”

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Reacting to accusations of bias, CCG bosses said: “Our consultation document was developed with the support of patient representatives.”

The three GPs who led the consultation defended the process, saying it lasted three and a half months and featured 42 public events across three boroughs.

“By their own admission, Redbridge Healthwatch has undertaken a consultation of their own that lasted for just three hours at one meeting in Wanstead with 40 local campaigners,” said a statement from Drs Mehul Mathukia, Jagan John and Gurdev Saini.

“We are confident, therefore, that we have a broader sample of public opinion from a range of communities about our proposed improvements to care.”

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