Watchdog calls for hospital closure decision to be referred to Health Secretary

Sally Edwards with her petition to keep Wanstead Hospital's Heronwood and Galleon wards open in Snar

Sally Edwards with her petition to keep Wanstead Hospital's Heronwood and Galleon wards open in Snaresbrook, London on September 16, 2014. Photo: Arnaud Stephenson - Credit: Photo: Arnaud Stephenson

A patients’ watchdog has renewed calls for the planned closure of Wanstead Hospital to be referred to the Health Secretary after proposals were agreed by commissioners last week.

Healthwatch Redbridge said the decision to slash intermediate care bed numbers from 104 to between 40 and 61 “concerns us greatly”.

On Thursday Barking and Dagenham, Havering and Redbridge Clinical Commissioning Groups (CCGs) met in Ilford and voted in favour of closing the Heronwood and Galleon units at Wanstead Hospital and Gray’s Court in Dagenham.

The wards, which provide rehabilitation care to patients after operations and illnesses, will be replaced by community treatment teams (CTTs) which will visit people in their own homes.

The intermediate care unit at King George’s Hospital in Goodmayes will also be extended.

A petition launched against the plans gathered 5,000 signatures, with many voicing concerns about the CCGs’ consultation questionnaire, claiming it was leading.

Following the meeting, Healthwatch Redbridge chief executive officer Cathy Turland said: “Whilst we welcome the fact that more people are using the rehabilitation ‘at home’ service, we are still concerned that local people have felt ignored and that the consultation was a paper exercise in regards to their wishes.

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“The proposals to purchase additional beds if required due to ‘winter pressures’ seems to suggest that a high level of agency staff will be required and this concerns us greatly.”

She said the organisation would be “discussing its next steps” and called on Redbridge Council to consider referring the matter to Secretary of State for Health Jeremy Hunt.

After the decision on Thursday, Dr Mehul Mathukia, clinical director of integrated care for Redbridge CCG, said: “We are delighted to get the go-ahead for our plans.

“This decision means more local people will get better care, more quickly and be less likely to need a stay in hospital.

“We will have excellent care at home services backed up by a consistently high quality rehab unit.

“We have been clear all along that anyone who needs a community rehab bed will get one and no changes will take place until after winter.”