Trust chief: “Queen’s isn’t ready to take patients from King George Hospital A&E – but it will be.”

The crowd watches Ilford South MP Mike Gapes speak at a public meeting on the future of King George

The crowd watches Ilford South MP Mike Gapes speak at a public meeting on the future of King George Hospital. Photo: Bob Archer - Credit: Archant

A trust executive has admitted Queen’s Hospital is in no fit state to cope with the closure of King George Hospital’s A&E, but insisted it will be in two years.

Averil Dongworth, chief executive of Barking, Havering and Redbridge University Hospitals NHS Trust (BHRUT), was speaking at a public meeting on the future of services at King George.

Tensions ran high as more than 50 residents opposed to the planned closure of A&E grilled a panel including NHS managers and a doctor at Redbridge College, Little Heath, on Friday.

Mrs Dongworth said she understood concerns over the quality of care at the troubled Queen’s Hospital A&E in Romford.

She added: “Queen’s isn’t ready for [the transfer] at the moment and that’s why our plans talk about 2015.

“The A&E is too small – it couldn’t possibly cope with King George Hospital’s patients as well.”

She said services are currently “stretched too thinly” between the two hospitals and doctors are shunning the debt-ridden trust.

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If everything runs on time, King George Hospital’s A&E will close in winter 2015, but there will still be an urgent care centre on the site in Barley Lane, Goodmayes.

Ilford North MP Lee Scott told he meeting he believed lives would be lost if the closure goes ahead.

Fellow panellist Mike Gapes, MP for Ilford South, slammed the 2011 consultation on hospital service changes.

He said: “There seems to be an agenda in the NHS going back seven years at least to run down the services at King George […]

“In my opinion it was a rigged consultation process. It wasn’t done by people here but it had an agenda and it came out with the result they wanted.”

But Dr Heath Springer, clinical director at Redbridge Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG), and Conor Burke, chief officer for CCGs in Barking and Dagenham, Havering and Redbridge, argued changes were clinically led and in the best interests of patients.

Mr Burke said he wanted to involve residents more in changes and keep them better informed in the future.

Many people at the meeting spoke of their own experiences at King George Hospital.

Morris Hickey dubbed Queen’s A&E “an extension of Romford Market” but praised the work of doctors and nurses at King George who cared for his mother.

She died aged 102, hours after being taken into A&E last month but Mr Hickey said the hospital provided an “outstanding service”.

He added: “The treatment she was given and the attitude of staff was beyond compare and this is what we want here.”

The Save King George Hospital campaign group, who organised the meeting, vowed to continue the fight against the closure of A&E.

Cllr Andy Walker said: “Residents can rest assured that we do all we can to keep open KGH A&E and we have written to Averil Dongworth to ask her to withdraw the 2015 closure date.”