Closing A&E just doesn’t add up

Posted on October 29, 2009. Filed under: News stories, Polyclinics | Tags: |

Ilford Recorder | 29 October 2009

THERE are worrying inconsistencies in the information from NHS Redbridge and Barking, Havering and Redbridge University Hospitals Trust (BHR) in proposing the closure of King George’s A&E.

Heather O’Meara, for example, from NHS Redbridge, claims that 200 people from Redbridge in an eight-week period used the Loxford polyclinic for urgent treatment who might otherwise have used King George A&E.

But this figure (averaging just 25 per week, all of them self-selected as minor cases) is not significant in the context of the sustained high caseload seeking A&E care at KGH and Queen’s Hospital over the past decade and more.

In the past full year the BHR Trust dealt with 177,000 first attenders at A&E – equivalent to 3,400 per week.

The 200 who attended Loxford polyclinic between 8am and 8pm was less than one per cent of the Trust total in the same period.

According to Ms O’Meara, 76,000 people attended KGH A&E last year – the Loxford polyclinic caseload is equivalent to less than two per cent of these.

Incidentally, BHR also admits that KGH is its only hospital meeting waiting time targets for A&E, while Queen’s lags behind.

But more significant are the very large numbers of local patients who require emergency admission to hospital. The most recent full-year figures show almost 50,000 emergency admissions to Queen’s and King George – NONE of which could be properly treated in Loxford polyclinic.

Given the evident chronic pressure on beds at Queen’s, where red alerts run for weeks at a time, and the persistent above-average and increasing bed occupancy in the BHR Trust, it seems unwise – and even dangerous – to close the KGH facility for emergency admissions, and run the risk of swamping both Queen’s and Whipps Cross with cases they are not resourced to handle.

It is impossible not to conclude that the “clinical” arguments wheeled out by trust and PCT bosses are a smokescreen to divert attention from the real reason for these changes – the trust’s disastrous £105million cumulative deficits.

DR JOHN LISTER

Director 

London Health Emergency

GPs ‘back axing of hospital A&E’

Ilford Recorder | NHS Redbridge | 25 October 2009

GPs IN REDBRIDGE are backing plans to axe King George Hospital’s A&E department, it was claimed this week.

In a meeting at the Barley Lane, Goodmayes hospital on Monday, health chief Heather O’Meara told the Recorder clinicians, including doctors, nurses and midwives, support the proposals.

And Ms O’Meara, who is sector chief executive for outer north east London, which is driving the changes, stressed the plans were different to the ill-fated Fit For the Future proposal in 2006.

“This process has been absolutely clinically driven from the beginning. It’s not being management led,” she said. 

The proposals by Health for North East London are the result of regular meetings by six working groups made up of medical staff. 

Stephen Burgess, who is leading the urgent surgery clinical working group, said: “I think there’s a view that the care people are getting within north east London is not as good as it could be.

“The public perception of an A&E and what it actually does is very different. Only 15 per cent of the people we see are actually ill or injured enough to need admission to hospital.”

The remaining 85 per cent are already starting to consider going elsewhere, such as to a polyclinic for emergency treatment. 

Ms O’Meara, who is also chief executive of NHS Redbridge, added: “Within the first eight weeks of Loxford Polyclinic opening, 200 people presented there, who would have been emergency patients.”

One thousand people also registered with a GP at the polyclinic, many of them for the first time.

Mr Burgess added: “This is not about the closure of King George Hospital and not about not having urgent care.

“There will be a 24/7 facility at King George where things like diagnostics, blood tests and rapid blood tests will be carried out.”

Since 2006, heart patients have been taken to the London Chest Hospital, Bethnal Green and stroke and trauma victims to Queen’s Hospital, Romford. 

Patients with other injuries are taken to their nearest A&E.

Ms O’Meara added: “Ten per cent more people survive a heart attack if they are taken straight to the specialist hospital and we want to deliver the best healthcare outcomes for Redbridge.”

Dr Hector Spiteri, Redbridge GP and Clinical Director for Seven Kings Polysystem, said yesterday (Weds): “The Health for North East London proposals have been developed by local doctors and are all about improving the care we provide to our patients.

“These plans will help us medical practitioners do more to enable people to live healthy lives and significantly improve health outcomes across north east London.” 

KGH looks set to hold on to its rehabilitation services and outpatient services such as chemotherapy, securing the future of the hospital’s Cedar Centre, built with the help of funds raised by Recorder readers.

The 14-week consultation is due to begin in November but the plans will be tested by the Joint Committee of PCTs and the Department of Health.

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