|Campaigners Celebrate Charing Cross Hospital's Reprieve|
After surprise announcement ending controversial Shaping a Healthier Future scheme
Local campaigners have been celebrating this week's surprise announcement that plans to downgrade Charing Cross Hospital have been scrapped.
On Wednesday, members of the Save Our Hospitals campaign gathered along with H&F Council Leader Cllr Stephen Cowan outside the hospital, in Fulham Palace Road.
A delighted Anne Drinkell, chair of the campaign, said: “This is the end of a long story, with pushes and victories along the way.
"What’s helped keep us going is knowing that we’re part of something bigger, a wider fight to save the health service."
Meanwhile, the Labour administration at Hammersmith & Fulham Council, which has joined local people in the battle to save the hospital over the last seven years,, was also celebrating, declaring: " We did it together!"
Council Leader, Cllr Stephen Cowan said: "This is a huge validation of Michael Mansfield QC's findings and a huge victory for the Save Our Hospitals campaign. Thank you to all the residents who worked with us to save Charing Cross Hospital."
On Tuesday, Health minister Matt Hancock MP confirmed that on Tuesday that the NHS had taken the decision to scrap the controversial ‘Shaping a Healthier Future’ plan.
If the £500 million plan had proceeded it would have led to the closure of Charing Cross Hospital’s Accident and Emergency department and the loss of 500 acute care beds.
The minister's announcement, which was described by Hammersmith MP Andy Slaughter as 'a total surprise' was made in reponse to a question from Chelsea and Fulham MP Greg Hands in the Commons on Tuesday afternoon.
He said: "Shaping a healthier future is no longer supported by the Department for Health and Social Care, by NHS Improvement or NHS England. The NHS will look at the parts of the proposals that are in line with the long-term plan, like the aspects of the plan that are focused on expanding the treating of people in the community.
"But as for the changes in A&E in West London, for instance at Charing Cross Hospital that he mentions, that are part of Shaping a Healthier Future, these will not now happen."
Hammersmith MP Andy Slaughter, describing the announcement as a 'total surprise' tweeted @hammersmithandy: " After seven years and millions of pounds wasted, it’s brilliant to hear that the Government has finally ended its support for plans to demolish Charing Cross Hospital. #SaveOurHospitals
Mayor of London Saiq Khan tweeted @SadiqKhan: "The service Charing Cross Hospital provides is crucial - and it's future should never have been under threat. Today's Government U-turn is testament to the tireless campaigning of @hammersmithandy @LBHF @savehfhospitals, trade unions and local residents. #LoveOurNHS."
Chelsea and Fulham MP Greg Hands said: "Now it is clear that Charing Cross Hospital with an A&E has a bright future as both a local hospital and as a provider of specialist hospital services to a wider west London population. It is time for local politicians in Hammersmith & Fulham to stop weaponising the future of Charing Cross Hospital as a shameless tactic to get more votes in local elections."
A statement from the North West London Collaboration of Clinical Commissioning Groups said: "All parts of the NHS are now in agreement to draw the SaHF programme to a conclusion and bring our on-going efforts to improve health and care together in a new programme as part of our NHS Long Term Plan response.
"This means we will not be taking forward the plans as set out in SaHF for changes to Ealing and Charing Cross hospitals, but this does not mean that services across NW London will not change.
"Challenges still remain, including the state of our estate and getting access to sufficient capital to invest in redevelopment, the continuing growth in demand for acute care despite investment in primary and community services; tight budgets; and gaps in our ability to recruit and retain enough staff with the right skills.
"This new plan for health and care in NW London will therefore still need to include changes, involving some difficult decisions and trade-offs but we believe if we all work together - staff, patients, partners and stakeholders - then we will have the best possible chance of success."
Written with contributions from Ged Cann – Local Democracy Reporter
March 29, 2019