100 beds to close at Hammersmith Hospital

Up to 2,000 patients in West London will wait twice as long.

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More than 100 beds are to close at the Hammersmith Hospital and thousands of patients kept off waiting lists, it was revealed by the Evening Standard. Up to 2,000 patients in Hammersmith and Fulham, and Hounslow and Ealing will now be forced to wait twice as long for non-urgent operations.

According to the newspaper, Hammersmith Hospitals NHS Trust say the beds will be closed, operating theatres will lie idle and medical staff will be redeployed because of a funding crisis at the three primary care trusts that pay for patients' treatment.

Derek Smith, chief executive of the hospital, told the Evening Standard: "We have to limit the number of patients we treat to the number we will be paid for.

"It is a hopeless situation. We have made the health service in west London for patients much more efficient, more responsive, access is much quicker and we have much more capacity than we have ever had and now we can't treat them. It is very much a backwards step."

Dr Sally Hargreaves, chief executive of Hammersmith and Fulham Primary Care Trust, said she faced a £5million deficit unless patients were kept waiting for operations. Hounslow care trust is also facing an estimated £7.5 million deficit.
"Hammersmith Hospital can provide excellent services so people only have to wait a maximum of three months for operations - we can't afford that, as the national target is for everyone to be operated on within six months."

August 15, 2004