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Councillor’s plea to health secretary: Don’t close A&E department

PUBLISHED: 13:01 18 September 2017

Protesters at a march to save King George Hospital's A&E in March. Picture: Catherine Davison

Protesters at a march to save King George Hospital's A&E in March. Picture: Catherine Davison

Catherine Davison

Plans to close the A&E service at King George Hospital will leave only one emergency unit for the borough, Barking and Dagenham council has warned.

While the close the Barley Lane, Goodmayes hospital’s A&E is set to be downgraded to an urgent care centre in two years, health minister Jeremy Hunt has said the decision is being reviewed to “ensure the proposals are still appropriate”.

Cllr Maureen Worby called on Mr Hunt to scrap the plans.

The cabinet member for social care and health integration said: “While we welcome the decision of the health secretary to review the proposed closure, as one of London’s most rapidly growing boroughs we need more facilities not less.

“That is why we are saying there is really only one option that to be made – this vital accident and emergency department must remain open.”

Mayor of London Sadiq Khan called for greater powers to shape the capital’s health service on Monday, after a report cast doubt on “the emphasis on competition” in the NHS.

The joint report by the King’s Fund and Nuffield Trust proposed more city-wide leadership to improve the five NHS Sustainability and transformation plans.

Closing the hospital’s emergency unit would leave Queen’s Hospital in Romford as the sole provider of A&E services for the borough, the council says.

The next closest unit would be Waltham Forest’s Whipps Cross University Hospital.

According to BHR Partnership, the body representing health and social care groups in Barking and Dagenham, Havering and Redbridge, more than 100,000 additional people are estimated to live in the area by 2025.

Cllr Worby said the health secretary should “drop all plans” and that councillors would support their Redbridge counterparts’ campaign against the closure.

“Even though Queen’s Hospital is slowly improving, there’s a long way to go – and with a growing population there is no real prospect that the local area can do without King George A&E into the future,” she added.

A spokeswoman for the Department of Health said that no comment would be made until a final decision is reached.

The health secretary claimed the hospital’s A&E “will not close in the foreseeable future” in May.

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