‘Panic’ as deadline to save hospital services approaches

There is a “panic” among officials in Redbridge as they race the clock to hand over damning evidence they hope will convince an independent panel to bin plans to close King George Hospital’s A&E and labour ward.

Wanstead resident Neil Zammett, a co-opted member of Redbridge Council’s health scrutiny committee, said there was “little material” ready to sent to the independent reconfiguration panel (IRP), which in July will advise the government on whether the A&E and labour ward at the hospital in Barley Lane, Goodmayes, should close.

He said: “I think there’s a panic in Redbridge about what material will go to the IRP and who will write it.

“There’s a queue of people getting ready with little material to put forward.”

He was speaking on Friday in Redbridge Town Hall, High Road, Ilford, as campaigners got together to thrash out ideas to help in their battle to save the services at King George.

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The IRP, which is made up of people with a range of experience in clinical health care, will present its report to Secretary of State for Health Andrew Lansley on July 22.

He will then have a final say on whether to accept its findings, which could see Health for North East London’s closure plans finally kicked in to touch.

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Campaigners have urged people who want to add their voice to the battle to write to the IRP before the end of June, by which time it is expected panel members will begin the process of writing their report.

Labour Ilford South MP Mike Gapes, who was at the meeting, said: “We have about one month to get our submissions in to ensure they are taken into account and make a difference.”

He is due to meet the panel in the next two weeks for a 30 to 60 minute face-to-face.

A parliamentary petition calling for the A&E and labour to be saved has so far got about 5,000 signatures, which campaigners eyeing 10,000 before submitting it at the end of this month.

It can be signed at Costa Coffe, Cranbrook Road, Ilford, and outside Redbridge Town Hall on Saturday from noon-1.30pm.

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