Election 2017: We fact check Ilford North candidates’ claims on the future of King George’s A&E

Protestors hold signs at a march to save King George Hospital's A&E, on 18th March 2017. Picture: Ca

Protestors hold signs at a march to save King George Hospital's A&E, on 18th March 2017. Picture: Catherine Davison - Credit: Archant

Despite this being called the Brexit election, in Ilford North a lot of the issues are closer to home – including the future of King George Hospital’s A&E.

The borough’s only emergency unit, in Barley Lane, Goodmayes, has been slated for closure for more than 10 years.

In 2011 health secretary Jeremy Hunt took the decision to change health services in north east London, and King George Hospital’s A&E was chosen to be downgraded to an urgent care centre.

Two months ago Labour and the Conservatives came together in a march to try and stop the closure, scheduled for 2019, however now a general election has been called the parties are accusing each other of “misleading” and “scare mongering”.

So what are the candidates saying?

In his campaign literature, which has gained attention on social media, Tory nominee Lee Scott used the headline: “King George: A&E to remain open.”

Mr Scott writes that he has “welcomed the news that A&E closure plans announced for 2019 are likely to be shelved”.

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The Recorder contacted Barking, Havering and Redbridge University Hospitals NHS Trust (BHRUT) for clarity on the plans and a spokesman explained that nothing had changed,

Jane Milligan, executive lead on the proposals, wrote: “It is our intention to make the changes by 2019 but please be assured nothing will happen until we are fully satisfied all the necessary resources are in place, including the additional capacity at the neighbouring hospitals.”

So is Mr Scott correct? The proposals have not changed, closure in 2019 is still the aim, however the second half of the comment is important.

Queen’s Hospital, in Romford, and Whipps Cross Hospital, in Leytonstone, will need to able to take on the extra patients before King George can be closed, and despite recent investment both are still missing their A&E waiting time targets.

Mr Scott says they will not be ready for King George’s emergency unit to close, therefore the “A&E will remain open”.

Labour’s candidate Wes Streeting says this is misleading.

Mr Streeting states that the A&E’s closure plan is still in place, and 2019 is still the agreed date.

“Lee Scott and the local Conservatives are misleading residents on one of the most important issues facing our community,” he said.

“Mr Scott should either apologise or produce evidence that ministers have reversed the closure decision. Of course, there is no such evidence.”

Mr Scott retorted: “Labour are scare mongering, they are damaging staff morale and this is putting vulnerable people at risk.”

Liberal Democrat candidate Richard Clare has said his party’s 1p tax rise will help raise £29m for Redbridge NHS and social services to keep the A&E open.

The Recorder also spoke to Andy Walker, who has spearheaded the campaign to save King George’s A&E for years.

He said: “I hope Lee is right but the published position is closure in 2019. Documents show funding is planned for Queen’s.

“I agree with Lee it would be madness to close King George in 2019, but we cannot be complacent, they closed Chase Farm A&E in Enfield.

“I’m glad that both Lee and Wes, whoever becomes our MP, have agreed to speak at a Save the A&E meeting in October.”

Who is right? You will have to make up your own mind.

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