Here is the full text of my letter to the Independent Reconfiguration Panel Secretary sent today
Dear Martin Houghton and IRP
As you know, I spoke to the Independent Reconfiguration Panel representatives to give my oral evidence at a meeting at the House of Commons.
I promised to send a written note to supplement my statement.
As background I would like to refer you to my speeches in Parliament in December 2006,
and June 2011
These set out the historical background and context and also challenge some of the assumptions and conclusions reached by the earlier “Fit for the Future” and current Outer North East London NHS proposals.
The current proposals to downgrade maternity and emergency services at King George Hospital Ilford follow on previous attempts led by officials at NHS London at reconfiguration of services and cuts in Ilford over the past five years which were rejected or put on hold because they were deemed to be inappropriate or clinically unsound.
The latest incarnation of these proposals has been presented in a different way and it is now claimed by ONEL that the proposals meet the four tests set out by the new Secretary of State in 2010.
However a closer scrutiny of the statements made by those who lead the new GP consortia will reveal reservations and qualifications to their endorsement. The so called clinical support is at best qualified and ambivalent and certainly not wholehearted. There has been no ballot of individual GPs or even of practices. Claims of support for these proposals from the Royal Colleges and Hospital Consultants must also be treated with some scepticism. Initially the Royal Colleges had expressed concerns at the proposals. Some consultants have said they would refer to work on one site rather than two because it is more convenient for them. However the key question should not be whether or not it is convenient for consultants but the access for the local community to high quality medical services and care.
There is no public support for these ONEL proposals as shown by the large number of petitions and response of community organisations. A petition to the House of Commons will be presented by Lee Scott MP on behalf of eight Members of Parliament in North East London on Wednesday 6 July. Even the rigged “consultation” exercise run by ONEL showed a two to one majority against the proposals to downgrade services and close Accident and Emergency and Maternity at King George Hospital. A large public meeting was held in Ilford in April and there is another in Romford this week.
These plans are based on unrealistic assumptions and heroic predictions about improvements in productivity and efficiency. The projected population increases in Outer North East London and neighbouring areas have not been fully considered.
The recent decisions by the Government to review the impact and costs of the PFI at Queens Hospital and the announcement on 29 June 2011 of a Care Quality commission investigation of emergency, elective and maternity services at Barking Havering and Redbridge University Hospitals NHS Trust confirm what I and others have been saying about the structure finances and management of BHRT. These problems are not new and they are in part a legacy of the last twenty years. Current issues about maternity services date back several years and focus not on King George but on the newer Queens Hospital. As I told your interviewers I receive very few complaints about KGH maternity and it would seem perverse and illogical to cut services at KGH because of criticisms about Queens.
I recently received an email which stated: “My wife had a baby in King George hospital and had a wonderful experience. My brother’s wife had a baby at Queens Hospital and found it traumatic and suffered complications up to 6 weeks after the birth.” As I told the House of Commons two weeks ago ”That is one of a series of e-mails and phone calls that I have been receiving for the past two years. Although some improvements have been seen at Queen’s, in the reception area and other aspects, the fundamental problems remain. My right hon. Friend the Member for Barking referred to a culture, and I believe that the issue is one of culture and of management, as well as of quality of care. It is an absolute disaster to contemplate closing the maternity unit at King George hospital, taking 2,000-plus births out of the equation each year, and as a result adding to the existing unbearable pressures on Queen’s hospital. It does not make sense. We have had a maternity hospital in Ilford since 1926, when the population was 85,000. The London borough of Redbridge now has a population of 280,000. We need to keep the maternity service—people have a right to be born in Ilford. I am pleased that we have such a united campaign, and I hope that the independent reconfiguration panel, the Secretary of State and the Minister are listening to the loud and clear message that we must keep the maternity service in Ilford.”
These long standing issues must not lead to cuts in access and availability of vital maternity and emergency services for residents of Ilford.
The ONEL proposals do not meet the four tests set out by the Secretary of State. They do not have support of the local patients, population and local elected members of local government or Members of Parliament. They do not have the demonstrable support of the majority of local general practitioners and clinicians.
They should be rejected.
Labour and Co-operative
Member of Parliament for Ilford South
House of Commons
London SW1A OAA
0207 219 6485