MP demands answers as ambulances are turned away from Romford hospital

A HAVERING MP is demanding answers from the health secretary after it emerged that Queen’s Hospital was forced to turn patients and ambulances away from its accident and emergency department due to overcrowding.

Dagenham and Rainham MP Jon Cruddas says he will write to Health Secretary Andrew Lansley after it emerged that A&E was over-run during Christmas, New Year and last week.

This has reinforced concerns that the hospital will not be able to cope if nearby King George Hospital closes its A&E department.

Mr Cruddas said: “This quite clearly shows that there are problems with the hospital’s accident and emergency department.

“It is time that Andrew Lansley came up with some answers to the urgent needs of our local community and to ensure our local A&E provision is increased over the next few years, or else these problems experienced over Christmas become more regular problems for local residents.”

Between December 19 and January 6, Queen’s Hospital was on divert for a total of 41 hours and ten minutes.

The longest period of divert was on probably the most busiest day, December 30, for six hours.

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On 18 separate occasions in 19 days over Christmas and New Year Queen’s was also diverting ambulances to King George Hospital, Whipps Cross and Leytonstone.

Queen’s even made announcements to patients in the waiting rooms advicing them to go the Harold Wood Polyclinic.

Ian James waited for four hours at the polyclinic with his wife on December 27.

He says that when he asked about the delay, he was told that the Queen’s accident and emergency department had been closed.

He said: “It was shocking and it shows that something clearly needs to be done about the hospital.

“It seems that they are at full capacity and they just can not take it any more.”

The crisis is thought to have been caused by the outbreak of the winter flu virus and on Decmeber 27 alone the hospital saw attendances of 472 patients as opposed to their average numbers of 384 per day.

The news has sparked fury from Romford MP Andrew Rosindell, he said: “I find it very concerning that despite having a modern building and facilities they can not cope with what is going on around them.”

The situation raises questions over the plans to close the accident and emergency department and maternity unit at King George Hospital, Goodmayes which would see many of the patients coming to Havering.

Mr Cruddas said: “This is quite simply not acceptable at a time when the NHS is actively considering closing A and E provision in the area.

“Developments over Christmas prove once and for all that we need more A and E capacity in our area.”

A spokesman for BHR Trust said: “The Emergency Departments at Queen’s have been very busy over the past few weeks.

“The Emergency Departments have not been closed to patients at any time.

“However, London Ambulance Service did temporarily divert ambulances from Queen’s Hospital to other locations for a short period last Wednesday and Thursday. This is standard NHS practice at all Accident and Emergency departments when they are particularly busy, and ensures that patients are seen as quickly as possible.”

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