NHS confirms St George’s Hospital, Hornchurch, to shed all 45 inpatient beds by winter

Hornchurch’s troubled cottage hospital St George’s is to shed all 45 of its inpatient beds by the winter because of the state of the building, NHS bosses announced yesterday.

The move will see rehab patients, including those who have had a stroke, sent to King George’s Hospital in Goodmayes and Grays Court Community Hospital in Dagenham.

Havering’s clinical commissioning group (CCG) said poor estate, security issues and an ailing heating system meant the hospital was no longer fit for purpose.

Commissioners remain adamant the site will eventually be redeveloped and a new health centre built – but admitted: “That won’t happen for a while.”

The decision comes two years after the Recorder first reported that the hospital, on Suttons Lane, risked closure if improvements were not made.

At the time, NHS Havering’s chief exec Chas Hollwey said doing nothing was “not an option”, and three alternative architectural plans – each costing �20-25million – were drawn up to redevelop the site.

But a spokesman for NHS North East London and the City (Nelc) said in May NHS reorganisations had stopped the architectural proposals reaching the stage of a formal business case.

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Last month, Havering’s top Tories told residents they believed the site would be sold for housing – despite a lack of formal confirmation from NHS chiefs.

Since 2010 the number of beds has fallen from more than 400 to 35 intermediate care beds, which will go to a dedicated ward at King George’s, and 10 stroke rehab beds, which will go to Grays Court.

Havering GP Dr Gurdev Saini, who sits on the CCG, said: “The hospital just isn’t fit to provide the care that local people need and expect in the 21st century. Anyone who has been to St George’s recently knows that it isn’t an ideal site for these sorts of 24/7 services.”

A Nelc press release added there would be a “wider consultation and engagement exercise” regarding what people want from the site that would involve the public, but did not specify when this would happen.

Elm Park resident Victoria Johnston-Messore, whose elderly father was treated at St George’s earlier this year, said the decision was “sad news, but not unexpected.”

Responding to the CCG’s assertion St George’s was in poor condition, Ms Johnston-Messore said: “They haven’t maintained it at all, so it’s not surprising. There has been a deliberate choice to shut that hospital down. They were moving services out anyway.”

She added the “unused and isolated areas” described by the press release were “unused because they made a point of not using them”.

Cllr Jeff Tucker (Independent Residents’ Group, Rainham and Wennington), told the Recorder he was concerned about local residents having to go to Goodmayes and Dagenham for treatment: “It’s a shame that they couldn’t keep them within the borough,” he said.

“That proves how desperately we are in need of maintaining as many hospitals as possible.”

Pick up the Recorder on Friday October 5 to read an in-depth Q&A with a Nelc spokesman about the decision and the future of St George’s.