West London faces ‘devastating’ A&E winter crisis after closures result in a year of missed waiting time targets

North West London A&Es handling the most serious emergency cases have missed waiting time targets every month since the closure of Hammersmith and Central Middlesex Hospitals’ A&E departments a year ago new analysis has revealed. NHS data uncovered by Labour London Assembly Member Dr Onkar Sahota shows that hospital A&E departments in Imperial, North West London, Hillingdon and West Middlesex Hospital Trusts have not once managed to see 95% of their A&E patients within 4 hours since the closure of Hammersmith and Central Middlesex A&Es in September 2014. The analysis comes after the Independent Healthcare Commission, led by Michael Mansfield QC, last week recommended halting further A&E closures in North West London.

Whilst the formal government 95% target includes patients at A&E, specialist and urgent care centres, official data shows that since the closures on 10th September 2014 none of the nearby hospital A&E departments (excluding specialist and urgent care centres) have managed to see 95% of their patients within four hours. Even when including non-A&E specialist and urgent care centres in the target, London North West Hospital Trust still missed the 95% benchmark every single week since the nearby A&E closures.

 

Dr Sahota, Labour’s London Assembly Health Spokesperson, warned that the missed targets indicated that West London was on track for another ‘devastating’ crisis in A&E this year if immediate action is not taken to relieve the strain.

 

The closures in 2014 hit Northwick Park and Ealing Hospital’s hardest, since then the A&E departments have consistently failed to treat 95% of their A&E patients within 4 hours or less. In September 2015, a year after the closures and the latest figures available, Northwick Park and Ealing A&Es only managed to treat 72.8% of their A&E patients in less than four hours. Dr Sahota warned that the troubling figures, could easily indicate another Christmas of crisis in the London NHS. Last December saw the percentage of A&E patients seen within 4 hours at Northwick Park and Ealing A&Es fall to just 54% the week over Christmas.

 

Dr Sahota’s warning comes after a report from the Independent Healthcare Commission, chaired by Michael Mansfield QC, demanded a stop on any further A&E closures in North West London. Dr Sahota, who welcomed the report, said, “it doesn’t take a genius to understand that shutting down A&E services will have a huge knock on effect for nearby hospitals.”

 

Labour’s London Assembly Health Spokesperson Onkar Sahota AM said:

 

“Last year we saw A&Es in West London desperately struggling to cope under the pressure of increased demand.

 

“With West London A&Es missing their waiting time targets every single month since the closure of Hammersmith and Central Middlesex A&Es it’s clear that this winter will bring serious challenges. Unless the Government recognise this challenge early and take action to relieve the pressure on West London A&Es the consequences could be devastating.

 

“The Independent Healthcare Commission’s recommendation to halt A&E closures couldn’t have come soon enough in the face of rising waiting times. It doesn’t take a genius to understand that shutting down A&E services will have a huge knock on effect for nearby hospitals. This places an increased burden on staff and resources and of course pushes up waiting times for those needing urgent care.

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