King George Hospital Downing Street plea crosses political divide

David Cameron received a plea to save services at King George Hospital today as people from four boroughs visited 10 Downing Street.

A delegation of politicians and campaigners, as well as the Recorder, showed a united front to deliver a strongly-worded letter to the Prime Minister, asking for proposals to close the A&E and maternity wards at the hospital in Barley Lane, Goodmayes to be ditched.

A plan to deliver a petition against the proposals has been postponed until May.

Redbridge MPs Mike Gapes, Lee Scott, John Cryer and Iain Duncan Smith joined council leader Cllr Keith Prince and deputy leader Cllr Ian Bond to make the trip.

Seven Kings councillors whose ward contains the hospital, Cllr Andy Walker and Cllr Stuart Bellwood were also among those who attended, alongside Havering and Redbridge London Assembly member, Roger Evans and MPs and councillors from Havering, Barking and Dagenham and Waltham Forest.

Work and Pensions Secretary and Chingford and Woodford Green MP Mr Duncan Smith (Conservative), who successfully fought a campaign for a similar downgrading of Whipps Cross Hospital in Leytonstone, said the changing demographic and travel problems in the area had not been taken into consideration by Health for North East London when making the plans.

“People will have to go into central London, that’s the big issue.

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“The PCT has made some pretty poor decisions. There’s been a misunderstanding of what the needs are of north east London, particularly if you consider the number of people moving in.”

Cllr Prince (Conservative) said: “We managed to get eight MPs from four boroughs in the same place at the same time. I hope the Secretary of State will hear the strong message that we’re sending forward.”

Ilford South MP, Mike Gapes, (Labour) said if the plans went ahead there would be terrible consequences to the other hospitals.

“The proposals are insane,” he said.

“This is a very important part of the campaign. We have a brought unity of members of Parliament and councillors. We need a hospital in Ilford, we shouldn’t have to go all the way to Romford.”

MP for Ilford North Lee Scott (Conservative) said he hoped the community support would affect the outcome of the independent reconfiguration currently considering the plans on the orders of Health Secretary Andrew Lansley.

“Health for North East London have got this wrong. We need both the A&E and maternity to remain at King George Hospital and there’s cross party support for it,” he said.

Cllr Andy Walker, who organised the delegation, said the turnout and support given to the campaign was “wonderful”.

“The plans are clearly dangerous. We hope Andrew Lansley will see sense.”