Hands Off Our Hospital: Ambulances diverted to under threat Redbridge A&E

AMBULANCES were diverted to King George Hospital’s A&E on 18 separate occasions in 19 days over Christmas and New Year – at the same time the department is earmarked for permanent closure.

The ambulances were diverted because Queen’s Hospital, Romford – where they would have otherwise been sent to – was too busy to cope.

The A&E at King George, Barley Lane, Goodmayes, will close under plans drawn up by health bosses, with Queen’s the main alternative.

Between December 19 and January 6 – one of the busiest times of year for hospitals – Queen’s was on divert for a total of 41 hours and 10 minutes. The longest period of divert, on December 30, was six hours.

Of the 18 occasions Queen’s was put on divert, King George was the only alternative A&E for ambulances 13 times.

On the five occasions where other hospitals including Whipps Cross, Leytonstone, were listed, King George was still put down as one of the alternative A&Es.

But the health trust has said diverting ambulances is “standard NHS practice at all A&E departments when they are particularly busy”, adding it “ensures patients are seen as quickly as possible”.

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A spokesman for Barking, Havering and Redbridge University Hospitals NHS Trust said the Christmas and new year period had been a busy time, adding: “The emergency departments have not been closed to patients at any time.

“Hospital staff may recommend more appropriate services but would never turn away a sick patient needing hospital care.”

On Friday the trust asked people to think twice before going to A&E as its services were being “stretched” by the flu outbreak.