Local MP Fears Return of 'Shaping a Healthier Future'

Rupa Huq wants assurances from minister on potential hospital closure plans

Rupa Huq in parliamentary debate on health
Rupa Huq in parliamentary debate on health

Rupa Huq has this week secured a meeting with Minister for Health Ed Argar MP after raising concerns in Parliament over the future of Ealing Hospital in Parliament.

In a question directed at Health Secretary Matt Hancock MP on Tuesday (1 September ), the Ealing Central and Acton MP echoed the concerns of her constituents following the scaling back of Ealing hospital services and diversion of ambulances since the start of the Covid-19 pandemic, measures that have been described as “temporary” by the North West London Health and Care Partnership.

She called on the Health Secretary to confirm that the closure of some of the Uxbridge Road-based hospital’s services would not become permanent and added that the closures could not spell the return of the ‘Shaping a Healthier Future’ closure program “through the back door”, referring to the £500m plan to axe nearly half of A&E departments in west London that was scrapped in March 2019.

Mr Hancock said in response that he was continuing with “the investment into primary healthcare services that was part of the [Shaping a Healthier Future closure program], but not the rest of it.” He then offered Dr Huq and other west London MPs the opportunity to meet with the Minister for Health to discuss the matter forward.

Dr Huq told EalingToday.co.uk afterwards that although she was pleased to be offered the meeting, expected to take place later this month, she still had concerns about the continued impact of limiting Ealing services.

She said, “For years we lived with the threat of a massive NHS reorganisation programme looming over us that would have downgraded Ealing hospital out of all recognition. It was withdrawn before the election but now it just seems it is back again under the guise of Covid. I’m pleased Matt Hancock denied that this is the case and I look forward to getting further reassurances from his junior minister when I meet him with my fellow Ealing MPs.

“But I am deeply concerned that the Government is using the Covid-19 pandemic to prepare the ground for permanent A&E closures. At Ealing Hospital, there’s no emergency surgery of any kind at night. Trauma services are only available on Mondays and Fridays, which is of no use to anyone unless you have the good grace to injure yourself on Monday or Friday. And ambulances are still being diverted further afield to Northwick Park, a strategy that was, it will surprise no one to read, prioritised by the original Shaping a Healthier Future program.

“It’s no exaggeration to say that these closures are resulting in needless deaths. The Government can and should be doing better to ensure that Ealing Hospital is as fully operational as it can be during the pandemic.”

Dr Huq said that she and other Ealing MPs, including Virendra Sharma and James Murray, would use the meeting with Minister of State for Health Ed Argar MP to ensure west Londoners’ concerns were heard.

Eve Turner, Secretary of Ealing Save Our NHS, said: “Despite promises from the Government and health bosses that Ealing would have a fully functioning A&E, the Hospital now doesn't have 24/7 emergency surgery and blue ambulances are often being diverted elsewhere.”

And Virendra Sharma, MP for Ealing Southall, added, “My community of Ealing Southall is home to some of the worst health inequalities in London, and is right on the doorstep of Ealing Hospital, yet because services aren’t there aren’t running my constituents have to travel much further for help. People will die if this blue light divert remains, and so that is why I, along with my Ealing Labour colleagues, are calling for it to end.”

A spokesperson for north west London NHS said these changes are a temporary response to a national public health emergency, adding: “We will of course work with local people and stakeholders to explain the changes and understand their experiences of them.”

Like Reading Articles Like This? Help Us Produce More

This site remains committed to providing local community news and public interest journalism.

Articles such as the one above are integral to what we do. We aim to feature as much as possible on local societies, charities based in the area, fundraising efforts by residents, community-based initiatives and even helping people find missing pets.

We’ve always done that and won’t be changing, in fact we’d like to do more.

However, the readership that these stories generates is often below that needed to cover the cost of producing them. Our financial resources are limited and the local media environment is intensely competitive so there is a constraint on what we can do.

We are therefore asking our readers to consider offering financial support to these efforts. Any money given will help support community and public interest news and the expansion of our coverage in this area.

A suggested monthly payment is £8 but we would be grateful for any amount for instance if you think this site offers the equivalent value of a subscription to a daily printed newspaper you may wish to consider £20 per month. If neither of these amounts is suitable for you then contact info@neighbournet.com and we can set up an alternative. All payments are made through a secure web site.

One-off donations are also appreciated. Choose The Amount You Wish To Contribute.

If you do support us in this way we’d be interested to hear what kind of articles you would like to see more of on the site – send your suggestions to the editor.

For businesses we offer the chance to be a corporate sponsor of community content on the site. For £30 plus VAT per month you will be the designated sponsor of at least one article a month with your logo appearing if supplied. If there is a specific community group or initiative you’d like to support we can make sure your sponsorship is featured on related content for a one off payment of £50 plus VAT. All payments are made through a secure web site.


September 6, 2020