Cabinet - councillors hit out at King George maternity decision and ‘exclusion’ from providing feedback

Cabinet members hit out at the decision to close the maternity ward at King George Hospital last night and said a health scrutiny committee had been “excluded from providing feedback”.

The board of the NHS North East London and the City (NELC) gave the final approval on Thursday to plans to transfer maternity services from the hospital in Barley Lane, Goodmayes, to Queen’s Hospital in Rom Valley Way, Romford.

But Cllr Ian Bond, Redbridge Council’s deputy leader, described the decision as “very disappointing” when the cabinet met in Redbridge Town Hall, High Road, Ilford.

He said: “Redbridge has one of the highest birth rates in the country. Neither the council nor residents can understand how this decision makes any sense at all.”

Cllr John Fairley-Churchill, the cabinet member for adult social services and health, said the board had chosen a date for their meeting “which they knew would clash with our health scrutiny committee”.

The board was previously due to take its decision at the end of this month.

The committee’s chairman Cllr Joyce Ryan wrote to NELC’s chief executive Alwen Williams last week to say the change in date of the board meeting meant the committee had no opportunity to make its views known. Leader of the council Cllr Keith Prince said: “It’s damnable the way we have been treated by the NHS in this issue.

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“It shows a contempt that is unacceptable.”

The council’s chief executive Roger Hampson will now write to the Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt to express the cabinet’s “deep concern and dissatisfaction” at the committee being excluded from providing “local feedback”.

In her reply to Cllr Ryan on March 6, Ms Williams said clinical reviews in February showed risks to staffing were increasing because of running three birthing sites - KGH and the birth centre and maternity ward at Queen’s.

She said Heather Mullin, the director of transition, wrote to Cllr Ryan on February 12 to say “the safest option for local women would be to bring forward the decision” and informed her of the new meeting date.

Surrounding facilities in Waltham Forest, Newham and Barking will also be used for births.