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Editor’s comment: We need a guarantee over A&E

PUBLISHED: 08:00 02 December 2017

Public demonstration outside Redbridge Town Hall urging councillors to oppose the NHS's current sustainability and transformation plan which would close King George Hospital's A&E department.

Public demonstration outside Redbridge Town Hall urging councillors to oppose the NHS's current sustainability and transformation plan which would close King George Hospital's A&E department.

Archant

The revelation this week that plans to downgrade the A&E department at King George Hospital in neighbouring Redbridge have been halted is great news for Havering residents who were concerned about the impact on Queen’s.

Plans to turn the A&E in Goodmayes into an urgent care centre were pushed through in 2011, and in November last year the scheduled closure date was announced for 2019.

But there have been continued fears that it would put too much pressure on Queen’s Hospital’s emergency department in Romford.

We were repeatedly told the A&E would not close until Queen’s could cope but no right-thinking people can see that situation ever happening.

The population in this part of east London is rapidly expanding and that means more patients.

Just two weeks ago Barking, Havering and Redbridge Clinical Commissioning Groups urged residents to use both emergency departments.

Its statement read: “There are still a very large number of patients in the A&E department at Queen’s Hospital.

“This is putting significant pressure on health services

across the boroughs. A&Es at Queen’s and King George hospitals remain open.”

And winter – when A&Es would expect to be busier – hasn’t even arrived yet.

In September, Rainham MP Jon Cruddas wrote in this newspaper: “Waiting times at Queen’s are already at unacceptable levels. In May just 77 per cent of patients were seen within four hours - way below the 95 per cent floor. Since then the figures have hobbled to 83 and 84 per cent.

“The A&E at King George has a better record but is still repeatedly falling below the floor. How on earth its closure is going to improve the performance at Queen’s is beyond my, or any sane person’s, imagination.”

The announcement this week is not an assurance that the A&E will remain open for ever but things have changed since closure was first planned. It is now time for it to be dropped once and for all.

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