Redbridge Council slams King George Hospital maternity closure and vows to take fight to prime minister

Redbridge councillors of all parties unanimously voted to “condemn” the decision to stop births at King George Hospital yesterday evening.

The motion was brought by Labour leader Cllr Jas Athwal and his deputy Cllr Wes Streeting at a full council meeting at Redbridge Town Hall, High Road, Ilford.

The council will now write to the secretary state for health, Jeremy Hunt, and the prime minister, David Cameron, asking them save the labour ward and scrap plans to close the hospital’s accident and emergency department.

Cllr Athwal said the way NHS North East London and the City (NELC) made the controversial decision was “disgraceful”.

He added: “It was disrespectful in the extreme to the residents of this borough.

“I moved this motion because I know everyone in this chamber will support it.

“We need to stand together today because what has happened to maternity will happen to A&E.”

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NELC came under attack from councillors angered by the decision to move the decision meeting forward to clash with the council’s health scrutiny committee, meaning it was too late for their feedback to be heard.

Cllr John Fairley-Churchill said the timing was “a slap in the face” and an “up yours Delores” to residents.

He added: “They couldn’t give a monkey’s left wotsit about our feelings.”

Births will stop at King George Hospital, in Barley Lane, Goodmayes, on Tuesday.

The closure means women will give birth at surrounding hospitals, leaving antenatal clinics, scans and parenting education at King George.

Queen’s Hospital, in Romford, has expanded its maternity services with a new birth centre.

Cllr Jim O’Shea praised the new equipment at Queen’s, saying it was a “move in the right direction”.

“But it’s completely the wrong way to go about it,” he added.

Helen Brown, director of transitional change at NELC, told the board meeting the decision to close the labour unit was approved “in principle in 2010” and steadily implemented.

She claimed the changes were “safer” for mothers.