New allies join Redbridge hospital fight

THE FIGHT to save King George Hospital’s A&E has won a key supporter, after Havering Council voted to join their Redbridge peers in battling to save under threat services.

Councillors meeting last week in Havering Town Hall agreed to oppose the closure of the A&E and labour ward at the hospital in Barley Lane, Goodmayes.

A Labour motion to follow the lead of Redbridge Council in political parties uniting under the one cause was also agreed.

Redbridge Labour Cllr Andy Walker, who has been at the forefront of the campaign against Health for North East London’s (HfNEL’s) plans, said: “This is an important moment because it means Havering will get behind the march on April 8.

“We now want to get Barking and Dagenham and Waltham Forest on board.

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“Barking and Dagenham passed a motion in support of our opposition, but we want them actively involved in the campaign. That would be great.”

Secretary of State for Health Andrew Lansley has been asked to review the proposals, which were approved by the joint committee of PCTs in December.

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He is expected to ask the independent reconfiguration panel – which has expertise in NHS service changes – to rule on whether a full inquiry is needed.

But whatever happens, the A&E is not likely to close for at least five years.

A protest march on April 8 organised jointly by campaigners will go from Queen’s Hospital, Romford to King George.

Havering councillors have voiced concerns Queen’s will not be able to cope with an increase in demand if its neighbouring A&E and labour ward closes.

Barking MP Margaret Hodge has also hit out at the closure proposals, branding them earlier this month as “health vandalism”.

HfNEL says Queen’s Hospital will be readied to cope with extra demand when the services at King George close, insisting no changes will be made until the necessary work at Queen’s has taken place.

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