500 Acute NHS Beds To Be Axed in North West London Over the Next Four Years

It took an article in the 10 May 2016 issue of the ‘Evening Standard’ to inform us all about the projected butchering of our local hospitals. The so called debt of £1 billion in NHS NW London is apparently to be dealt with by axing 500 Acute beds in our local hospitals by 2020. The beds to be lost would have been for use by the physically ill and the mentally ill.

The trio who told the newspaper are the bosses of the NHS Ealing Clinical Commissioning Group, Brent Council and the NHS Imperial Healthcare Trust.

Digging deeper into this bombshell we find that the figures came from the draft 2016/2017 NHS NW London Sustainability and Transformation Plan (STP). This draft STP has been hatched in secret by representatives of 31 public bodies which include eight NHS CCGs, eight Local Authorities and all the NW London NHS Trusts. The failing 2012 cost cutting ‘Shaping a Healthier Future’ (SaHF) programme does not get any mention whatsoever. Obviously SaHF as a cost cutting vehicle has now been replaced by STP.

The body which created this STP calls itself the NWL Strategic Planning Group (SPG). The SPG has no statutory authority and is not the creation of any Act of Parliament. No public consultation was carried out on the STP or the SPG. I can’t find any evidence of SPG meeting minutes or the draft STP. You might have thought that these documents might exist on the Ealing CCG web site, the Ealing Council website or the web site of the ‘North West London Collaboration of Clinical Commissioning Groups’. But you would be wrong.  

Of course the ‘Evening Standard’ quotes some anonymous NHS spokesperson shoveling out the usual claptrap about not axing beds before alternative services are in place. Well this never happened when Acute beds were axed from Central Middlesex and Hammersmith Hospitals in September 2014. And I don’t expect it will happen with the new ‘Axe 500 beds’ project.