King George Hospital cuts: Air your grievances with panel say chiefs

HEALTH chiefs who have proposed changes to King George Hospital which could see the closure of A&E and the labour ward have urged people to share their reservations with independent experts.

An Independent Reconfiguration Panel is reviewing the plans for the Barley Lane, Goodmayes hospital, hatched by Health for North East London and will report back to Health Secretary Andrew Lansley in July

Following stinging criticism from campaigners at a march and rally last week including attacks by MPs and Redbridge politicians, a spokesman for HfNEL defended the plans.

“We understand that there are strong feelings locally about the proposed changes and encourage local people to share their views with the Independent Reconfiguration Panel (IRP),” the spokesman said.

“The IRP review will consider whether the proposals would enable the provision of safe, sustainable and accessible services for the local population. No substantial changes to A&E or maternity services will happen unless agreed by the Secretary of State following the independent review.

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“Local clinicians developed the proposals based on guidance from Royal Colleges which recommends concentrating specialist care in fewer, larger units to ensure 24/7 consultant cover.

“The proposals for maternity delivery services, which are supported by the Royal College of Midwives and Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists, would ensure more senior clinical presence on labour wards than is currently possible helping to better manage the peaks and troughs in demand and improve care for women and babies and they fully take into account population trends.

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“Under the proposals, women would have the option of giving birth in a new midwife-led unit at Queen’s providing a more comfortable, less clinical and more homely environment for low-risk women. Currently only Whipps Cross offers this service in outer north east London. The midwife-led unit would be co-located with the obstetric unit which would have the full support of a range of medical and surgical specialities necessary. King George would continue to provide antenatal and postnatal care.”

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