A&E closures – Brent demands answers

Hospitals bosses will face serious questions from Brent councillors about ‘life and death’ issues at a scrutiny meeting next week after the opening of the new A&E at Northwick Park was delayed for a third time in as many months.

The repeated delays to the opening of the expanded A&E at Northwick Park has led to Brent residents facing the longest waiting times for emergency surgery in the UK. Only around 75 per cent of patients were seen within four hours, according to the latest figures, which is significantly below the 95 per cent NHS target.

The opening of the new £21million casualty unit at the hospital in Watford Road, Sudbury, had originally been pencilled in for October but this was delayed until mid November.

Health chiefs have now pushed back the opening for a third time prompting fears that the already dire performance at the hospital, which has been criticised by England’s health watchdog, may get even worse if there is an increase in admissions caused by cold weather.

In September the council called for the closure of the Central Middlesex A&E to be delayed until reassurances were received about the quality of care at Northwick Park Hospital. However, despite the fact that England’s health watchdog the CQC judged Northwick Park’s overall performance to ‘require improvement’ and that its critical care service was deemed ‘inadequate’ health bosses ignored the council’s plea.

Councillors will now be demanding urgent answers about why the Northwick A&E has still not opened. North West London Healthcare Trust (NWLHT) bosses will also be under pressure to explain why the promised improvements to local GP facilities, which was supposed to prevent unnecessary A&E visits, have not been delivered either.

Councillor Muhammed Butt, Leader of Brent Council, said: “Our worst fears about the effects of closing local A&Es before the expansion of Northwick Park was ready have come true.

“Our residents now face some of the longest A&E waiting times in the country and immediate action needs to be taken to resolve this as we are talking about life and death emergency treatment. Further delays to the A&E improvements at Northwick Park will only make the problem worse. We will be demanding answers from NHS bosses at our next scrutiny committee.

“Our residents deserve the best healthcare and we need to understand why the reconfiguration of local health services has been botched so badly and get answers about how the Trust plans to improve the care they offer urgently.”

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