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31.10.13

A&E reconfiguration confirmed for north-west London

Services in north-west London are to be reconfigured, with emergency care centralised to reduce morbidity and mortality.

Health secretary Jeremy Hunt has announced that the changes set out in ‘Shaping a Healthier Future’ will be implemented, following recommendations from the Independent Reconfiguration Panel (IRP).

But he announced that Ealing and Charing Cross hospitals would retain A&E services, “even if it is in a different shape or size to that currently offered.”

The IRP has published a new report calling for nine hospitals to be redesigned, with A&E services to be provided by Hillingdon, Northwick Park, West Middlesex, Chelsea & Westminster, and St Mary’s.

Maternity and paediatric inpatient services should also be concentrated, the IRP recommended.

The changes will be implemented as part of a staged approach. Restructured emergency care at Ealing and Charing Cross hospitals will take place after the winter, after further work to inform a final decision has been made. Proposals for A&E services at Hammersmith and Central Middlesex hospitals should proceed as soon as possible, the IRP stated.

Lord Ribeiro CBE, chairman of the IRP, said: “The current problems and future challenges faced by the NHS in north-west London require large-scale change in the way services are designed and delivered. I have no doubt that the IRP’s recommendations will enable the provision of safe, sustainable and accessible services. It is essential that out of hospital services are built from a local level to ensure the needs of the diverse population of north-west London are being met.

“Patient care has been our primary concern throughout this review and it is imperative that the public are fully engaged in any future decisions. There is no room for delay in this process and changes must be made as soon as is practicably possible to ensure safe and high quality care for patients. The NHS should also ensure it continues a close working relationship with local authorities.”

Hunt said: “Changes to services across north-west London have been designed and driven by local doctors and healthcare professionals who know their patients best. When local doctors tell me that lives can be saved and patient care improved, I will not hesitate to act in the interests of patients.

“Today’s changes will put patients at the centre of the NHS in north-west London, giving them better access to care 24/7 at home, at GP surgeries, in hospitals and the community.”

The ‘Shaping a healthier future’ team compared the coming changes to the successful reconfiguration of stroke care in London, saying: “They will ensure that when someone does need emergency care they are seen by a specialist more quickly and will have better access to diagnostics whatever the time or day. They are about making better use of our staff and buildings and ultimately they are about saving over 130 lives every year. Already in London we have centralised treatment for stroke and major trauma meaning that ambulances go past your nearest hospital and straight to a specialist hospital which has saved hundreds of lives across London. We are building on that experience.”

(Image: Dominic Lipinski/PA Wire)

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