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Plans for selling off all but 13% of the central hospital were revealed to The Guardian this morning as part of ‘sustainability’ and ‘transformation’ plans for the NHS across England.
Official plans published last year neglected to include any detail of actual changes to hospitals. Only now that internal supporting documents have been revealed to the Guardian has the sheer extent of closures been revealed. These internal documents only outline the detailed downgrading of this vital hospital.
Specifically, the proposals revealed to the Guardian claim that most patient care by Charing Cross should be transferred to ‘community settings’, such as local GPs and community outreach services. Whether these community settings will receive the resources necessary to cope with a massive patient influx is not mentioned. Also not mentioned is the fact that the ‘community care’ bracket includes precarious care which falls on families and friends, most often to women. This puts further strain on local councils, families, and communities, and means more and more people will fall through the net. Health campaigners and clinicians have shown that laissez-faire attitudes to patients endangers lives.
The Charing Cross Hospital is located in a busy area of central London, providing services which health campaigners say simply cannot be replaced by ‘community care’. This includes 10 major services- a 24/7 A&E, emergency surgery, intensive care, and ranges of complex medical and surgical treatments. All that would remain of the gutted hospital will be outpatient and GP clinics, a pharmacy and a minor injuries and illnesses care centre. This comes at the loss of 300 acute beds.
This news comes as a devastating U-Turn after NHS chiefs said in only March that “there have never been any plans to close Charing Cross hospital”. In March 2015 David Cameron said that the suggestion that Charing Cross A&E department was earmarked for closure was “scaremongering”. Jeremy Hunt also echoed these claims.
According to the internal documents, “The significant impact of reconfiguration on inpatient activity will be the movement of activity from Charing Cross”. Imperial College Healthcare Trust, which runs Charing Cross, stressed that the plans had not been accepted since their proposition because of an increase in demand for patient care there in the meantime.
Stephen Cowan, the leader of the council in the Charing Cross borough of Hammersmith and Fulham, has accused the NHS chiefs of deliberately misleading the public about the Charing Cross plans:
“It’s like demolishing someone’s house only to tell them they have in fact not lost their house – because they’ll be given a new garden shed which will be called their ‘local house'”
Charing Cross is thought to be one of five London hospitals that the recent ‘Naylor report’ has claimed could be worth £1bn if sold. This report outlines the upcoming cuts which will see billions of pounds of land, property, and services sold to private firms with links to the government, leaving patients without emergency care. These devastating cuts are part of code-named ‘Project Phoenix’- a plan to create regional public/private partnerships to direct the dismemberment and sale of the NHS to private and public government allies. The proceeds from asset sales will be shared between NHS organisations and private firms. Under the plan, London and the south-east would comprise one giant, and very valuable, area. Jeremy Hunt is putting a price on the head of the NHS, one of the busiest emergency departments in London, and spitting in the face of the dedicated and overworked staff on the frontlines of saving our nation.