Councillors vote unanimously to refer Wanstead wards’ move to Department of Health

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

Councillors voted unanimously to refer the controversial decision to close two wards to the Department of Health at a meeting last night.

The decision to refer the matter to Monitor – a public body sponsored by the department – came after Healthwatch Redbridge chief executive officer Cathy Turland and members of the public aired concerns about the decision to phase out intermediate care beds at the Heronwood and Galleon wards in Makepeace Road, Wanstead.

Councillors also passed a recommendation to refer the matter to the secretary of state.

The plan involves moving all 61 intermediate care beds and centralising services at King George Hospital, Barley Lane, Goodmayes, by May next year.

Concerns ranged from the quality of care at King George Hospital, how the move would be funded and the involvement of Healthwatch Redbridge in the planning process.

“We have major concerns,” said Ms Turland at the Health Scrutiny Committee meeting, which was held at Redbridge Town Hall, High Road, Ilford.

“A review didn’t take place until six months after it was announced – this has been a problem for us and we have raised it a number of times.

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“I’m concerned to know where the money is going to come from and we’re still concerned by the fact that these are wards that are not confirmed.”

Ms Turland said the first time that Healthwatch Redbridge had seen the plans was about two weeks ago on a visit of the proposed wards at King George hospital – more than a year after the plan was announced.

Cllr Michelle Dunn (Wanstead, Cons) said: “To say I’m shocked is an understatement.”

Barking, Havering and Redbridge University Hospital Trust (BHRUT) chief executive Matthew Hopkins and North East London Foundation Trust (NELFT) chief executive John Brouder defended the plan to move beds at the meeting.

Mr Brouder said: “NELFT is a very successful foundation trust but the reality is that the number of services are diminishing [at the Wanstead wards] and they have become increasingly isolated.

“The bottom line is, we don’t feel we can take it through another winter.”

Mr Hopkins said: “The performance of King George should not colour views of intermediate care because that’s provided by NELFT.

“It’s a very positive move forward, it’s a good news story.”

A Redbridge Clinical Commisiioning Group CCG spokeswoman, told the Recorder last month that the “plans will not, as claimed, compromise services, but instead have already delivered improved care for tens of thousands of patients”.

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