Save Hospitals Campaign & Shaping Healthier Future Consultation

by Nigel Bakhai on 17 July, 2012

Please find below a copy of the text of my speech to the July 2012 council meeting in response to a Labour motion on plans to reconfigure Hospital services in North West London:-

Thank you Mr Mayor.  The future of Ealing Hospital and the NHS in North West London is the number one issue facing the residents of this borough. On behalf of the Lib Dem council group I welcome this opportunity to put on record our opposition to the Shaping Healthier Futures proposals for North West London and to make it totally clear that none of the group have made any comments to Dr Spencer in public or private to the contrary. It is inconceivable that a borough of the size of Ealing should be without an A&E and that Maternity, Paediatrics and other services at Ealing Hospital are under threat. The A&E at Ealing Hospital treats 100,000 patients per year – where will all these patients go? Northwick Park already struggles to meet its current demand and travel times for patients in Southall or other parts of the borough to get to Northwick Park are a nightmare in the rush hour.

This flawed consultation pits one hospital against another, in particular locally that means Ealing versus West Middlesex. However, the whole of the borough is potentially affected by these changes. While many in Hanwell and Southall in the West may go to their nearest hospital at Ealing, those in the North may go to Central Middlesex which is already partially closed and those in the currently go to Hammersmith or even to Charing Cross which are also under threat.

While we may support more investment in local health facilities and treatment out of hospital that is envisaged as part of these proposals, it should not be at the expense of current facilities like Ealing Hospital. It should be in addition not either or. With a growing as well as an aging population, with so many diverse communities with their different health needs living in this borough, we need more health services not less.

Cllr Stafford in his speech at the Hanwell Methodist church said that he thought Dr Spencer was an honourable man and that with pressure he would back down from these proposals. However, I take a more pessimistic view given Dr Spencer’s recent comments in the Ealing Gazette and Evening Standard. He is not interested in petitions or listening to the public. The fact that two weeks into the consultation and none of the consultation documents have been printed or available in the borough is testament to that. He has already made his mind up and is already trying to scaremonger people into believing that keeping Ealing Hospital open is putting lives at risk.

The recent public meeting in my ward showed the depth of public anger at these proposals. However, I noted at that meeting that our GLA member Dr Sahota mentioned that he supported the merger proposals for Ealing Hospital. I have to say that I was a little concerned by this statement. I say this not to criticise Dr Sahota but because I need think we need a unified campaign speaking with one voice. In my opinion, with the merger and North West London hospital reconfiguration, Ealing Hospital faces a two-pronged attack on its future and that the merger is likely to result in more than just back-office savings with more services transferring out of Ealing and going to Northwick Park. We should oppose the merger just as stridently as we oppose the proposals to reconfigure local Hospitals.

I am glad that we have put our political diversions aside to fight an all-party campaign and we in the Lib Dem group are totally committed to play our part in this campaign.

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