This occasional newsletter is researched, written and edited by a group of concerned residents in Ealing, West London who want to preserve our NHS. We view the wholesale engagement of private, for-profit healthcare service suppliers as unnecessary, profligate and dangerous. Process improvement is what is needed in our NHS – not revolution.
A&E Waiting Times for the Seriously Ill at Ealing Hospital Worst Ever Recorded in England
A new NHS low was reached in the week of 14 to 21 December 2014. At Ealing and Northwick Park Hospitals only 53.7% of Type-1 A&E patients (the most seriously ill) were treated within four hours. This is the lowest number ever recorded in England. All this is against a backdrop of no increase in Type-1 demand.
We should all sympathise with the heroic staff in Ealing Hospital A&E who are working to their limit with too few beds, too many temporary staff and an uncertain future ahead for all of them.
All this is at a time when the NHS’s own figures show no increase in A&E attendances.
Surely now is the time for the NHS ‘Shaping a Healthier Future’ plans to close Ealing Hospital and Charing Cross Hospital A&E units to be dropped. More acute beds and permanent acute staff must be acquired at these units.
The Solace Mental Health Centre Closure Plans – Linked to Death by Suicide – Are To Be Reviewed
The London Borough of Ealing’s (LBE’s) Solace Mental Health Centre in Bowmans Close, West Ealing has been a 365 day/year walk-in centre for mental health service users for over 22 years. Recently LBE announced plans to discontinue funding the centre as from April 2015. Without the LBE annual grant of £104,000 the centre will have to close.
The likely closure of the centre has caused great anxiety and anguish amongst the 85 regular service users. Two have recently attempted suicide and tragically one of them died under a train at Ealing Broadway Station on 7 January 2015.
On the face of it if the centre is providing a valuable cost effective service. Why can’t it be funded by the NHS West London Mental Heath Trust (WLMHT)? WLMHT currently provides £47,000 annual funding which pays for the centre to be open at weekends.
Alternatively why can’t funds be found from Ealing’s £29+ million 2015/16 Better Care Fund (BCF)? This pooled fund is operated by LBE and the Ealing Clinical Commissioning Group. BCF exists in order to facilitate the integration of health care and social care. The budget has not been finalised but this should happen in February 2015.
Perhaps WLMHT and the Ealing BCF could jointly fund the £151,000 annual running cost of Solace?
However, with a financial scandal beginning to engulf WLMHT (see below) it seems highly unlikely that it will be in any position to inject funds to save Solace.
On 13 January 2015 ‘Ealing Today’ reported that the LBE Councillor responsible for health – Hitesh Tailor – had said that LBE somehow wants to ‘continue the service’ at Solace. LBE has delayed a Cabinet decision on Solace and LBE Officers are now ‘developing proposals’.
It appears that Mencap might commit £40,000 annually to renting out space at the centre. At an LBE meeting on 27 January it emerged that a final decision could be made before the middle of February 2015.
More on Solace and to sign the Save Our Solace Centre petition see www.saveoursolace.co.uk
Now Ealing Hospital Maternity Unit Closure Date Has Slipped Again
Midwives at Ealing Hospital are mired in uncertainty as to when they might transfer to another hospital maternity unit and when exactly birthing will cease at Ealing Hospital. The likely date for closure of the Ealing Hospital maternity unit was originally 31 March 2015, but the NHS has failed to confirm this. Ealing CCG has told Ealing GPs not to refer expectant mothers to Ealing Hospital any more and currently referrals are down by 50%. Once referrals drop by another 25% the service will be unsustainable. There seems to be uncertainty about when and if extra capacity will exist at other maternity units when/if Ealing Hospital’s unit is closed. An excellent, well established service for diabetic mothers in Southall is now falling apart – as is one for HIV+ mothers in Southall.
When Ealing Hospital maternity unit closes Ealing mothers will be referred to Hillingdon, St Mary’s, Hammersmith, Northwick Park, West Middlesex and Westminster & Chelsea Hospitals. However rumour has it that Hillingdon Hospital will refuse to admit Ealing mothers. After closure of the Ealing Hospital birthing unit and the neo-natal unit, the ante-natal and scanning units will be retained.
Although a relocation process is in place, the 120 staff apparently have no formal job offers or formal start dates. All of the staff have issues which include very low morale, general uncertainty, school drop-off and pick-up arrangements for their children, travel to work and car parking at work. Midwives will soon begin to leave and the birthing service will have to close as it will be deemed ‘unsafe’.
A rethink on the fate of the Ealing Hospital Paediatrics unit has resulted in its retention for a year.
NHS Lammas House Repurposing as Mental Health Residential Recovery House Bites the Dust – As Financial Scandal Engulfs WLMHT
Plans for converting Lammas House on Mattock Lane into a 12 bedded residential mental health Recovery House have clearly gone all wrong, as we hear the building has been sold by the NHS West London Mental Health Trust (WLMHT) for £2.9 million.
‘The Independent on Sunday’ of 25 January 2015 suggested that the Recovery House project was scrapped because of financial turbulence at WLHMT. Anti-fraud specialists Mazars are currently investigating a £4 million overspend on unfunded or unapproved projects at WLMHT.
I understand that alternative facilities have been acquired on a 5 year lease at Amadeus House, 18 Corfton Road, W5. This house has 17 bedrooms and was until recently a care home for 11 mentally ill residents.
The Independent Health Commission Inquiry (IHCI)
The Councils of Brent, Ealing , Hammersmith & Fulham and Hounslow have set up the IHCI in order to investigate the impact of the proposed and actual changes to healthcare services brought about by the NHS North West London ‘Shaping a Healthier Future’ (‘SAHF’) strategy. The inquiry is chaired by Michael Mansfield QC.
Issues in Ealing include:
+ Demolition of Ealing Hospital and its replacement with a smaller, non-major hospital
+ Closure of A&E and Maternity Units at Ealing Hospital
+ Out-of-hospital provision prior to demolition and closures.
The Royal College of Nursing (RCN) has already submitted written evidence. The RCN wants the SAHF programme halted. It wants no A&E closures at Ealing and Charing Cross Hospitals until adequate out-of-hospital provisions are in place.
If you want to submit evidence you can contact Peter Smith at [email protected] or at Clerk to the Commission, Room 39, Hammersmith Town Hall, London W6 9JU. The public hearing in Ealing will take place at Ealing Town Hall on Saturday 21 March 2015.
Labour Party Pledges 10 Year Campaign to Merge Health and Care Services
Labour is promising, if elected, to recruit 20,000 nurses, 8,000 GPs, 5,000 care workers and 3,000 midwives. It plans to end the ‘Tory market experiment’ and repeal the Health and Social Care Act.
Patients Who Opted Out of Medical Records’ Sharing (care.data) Have Been Ignored and Could be ‘Punished’. Another care.data Shambles
The Health and Social Care Information Centre (HSCIC), which collects patient medical records, has admitted that ‘none of the objections requested by patients …have been enacted’. It is understood that tens of thousands of patients have objected to their personal medical data being shared or sold off.
It also emerged that patients who opt out of this data sharing will be ‘punished’ by not being approached for direct care services. These services include bowel screening and cancer screening.
The persistently stalling care.data scheme is a hugely ambitious programme which aims to link GP, social care and hospital records. A previous abortive attempt to do something similar – NPfIT – was started in 2002 and abandoned in 2011. It wasted some £10 billion of our money.
No Air Ambulances in the Whole of London for Much of January
Only one air ambulance normally operates in London. It is run by a charity and funded by businesses. However it did not operate for much of January as its annual three week maintenance was carried out. It seems barely credible that our state run healthcare service does not fund a fleet of air ambulances to serve the eight million residents of London.
Chronic Hospital Bed Shortage in England
The number of hospital beds /1,000 population in England is 2.7. The EU average is 4.2. In Germany it’s 8.2 and in France it’s 6.6. England is seriously ‘under-bedded’ in its NHS hospitals.
‘The Observer’ Reveals Soaring Stress Levels Amongst Nurses. Should We Be Surprised?
A Freedom of Information request has revealed that the incidence of stress, anxiety and depression is rising amongst our 400,000 NHS nurses in England. Since 2012 the number of working days lost due to stress has risen by 48%. NHS Employers estimates that 30% of all NHS sick leave is caused by stress.
Outsourcing NHS Scanning and Pathology Services Leads to ‘Loss’ of Data
Opendemocracy.net/ournhs quotes an anonymous NHS worker bemoaning fragmentation of healthcare caused by outsourcing NHS services to private companies. Often these days X-ray, ultra-sound, blood tests and other pathology and microbiology tests are outsourced to private companies. The results however reside on the private companies’ computers, not on NHS computers. So when NHS clinicians want to check/review these results they can’t find them. Just how this amounts to progress is beyond me.
One does also wonder who actually owns these images of you and your test results?
What Do NHS Services Cost?
Some recent cost estimates from The Kings Fund:
+ £26: Visit to a GP
+ £44: Visit to a family planning clinic
+ £111: Accident and emergency visit
+ £250: Hospital admission overnight stay
+ £344: Ambulance journey from accident scene