On 26th March 2019 A&E departments in two London hospitals were saved from closure. Sites at Charing Cross and Ealing were spared after the Health Secretary Matt Hancock axed plans for steep cuts to funding for NHS services across the borough.
In a surprise announcement during questions in the Commons, Matt Hancock told MPs that the proposed closures would not go ahead much to the delight of locals who had protested the plans from the outset.
'Shaping a healthier future' is no longer supported by the Department of Health and Social Care, NHS Improvement or NHS England. The NHS will look at parts of the proposals that are in line with the long-term plan, such as the aspects that are focused on expanding the treatment of people in the community. As for the changes in A&E in west London that are part of 'Shaping a healthier future'—for instance, those at Charing Cross Hospital, which he mentioned—these will not happen" the health secretary announced.
Plans were in place to downgrade or close A&E and maternity units in London and throughout England. These decisions were understood to be closely linked to the health service’s growing staffing crisis.
The proposals outlined in the ‘Shaping a Healthier Future’ document focused on easing pressure on A&E departments and hospitals by placing more emphasis on patient self-care and more treatments to be administered in the home.
What was the proposal that was rejected?
‘Shaping a Healthier Future’ is an NHS consultation document written in 2012 concerning the local NHS services in North West London in the boroughs of Brent, Ealing, Hammersmith and Fulham, Harrow, Hillingdon, Hounslow, Kensington and Chelsea, and Westminster which in 2012 served nearly 2 million people.
The document noted that a growing population, people living longer and modern-living lifestyle related conditions such as diabetes and obesity were in part responsible for putting a strain on the care that the NW London NHS services provided.
What was the vision for shaping a healthier future?
The document was based around these main points and focused on:
How does the NHS staffing crisis impact on services?
In the document it was admitted that some ‘difficult decisions’ would have to be made in order to achieve ‘better healthcare, better support, more lives saved, and a sustainable, efficient system.’
The document stated that in 2012 certain services had already been reduced due to the insufficient number of clinicians needed to provide them safely: ‘Recruiting and keeping clinical staff in London is always a challenge and if we do not offer the best places to work, and the best places to train, we will not attract the best staff. Equally, if there are not enough senior staff, trainee doctors can’t be supervised and are withdrawn from the hospital. All this means patients will not get the best care, and services will be reduced’ the report warned.
Naomi Clews Consultancy
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