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BHRUT aiming for 2014 target to move A&E services from King George Hospital in Goodmayes to Queen's Hospital in Romford
THE closure of A&E services at the borough’s only general hospital has been pencilled in for the end of 2014, it has been revealed.
The government wants to move both and A&E and maternity units from King George Hospital in Goodmayes to Queen’s Hospital in Romford.
But the move has been postponed indefinitely because Barking Havering and Redbridge University Hospitals Trust (BHRUT), which oversees both hospitals, has been under investigation by the Care Quality Commission (CQC) over standards of care.
In a presentation at a meeting of the Barking, Dagenham, Havering, Redbridge and Waltham Forest Joint Health Overview and Scrutiny Committee on July 10, BHRUT project manager Nick Hulme said the trust was scrapping an autumn 2013 target for the closure of King George’s A&E department.
And he added that the most likely date for the move was now some time in the third quarter of 2014.
Save King George Hospital (SKGH) member Neil Zammett of Gloucester road in Wanstead was at the meeting where Mr Hulme made his announcement.
He said: “Obviously this came out of the blue particularly as at the Redbridge Scrutiny meeting a week or so before we had had no news of a major change of plan.”
In his presentation to the committee, Mr Hulme said BHRUT was working on a new building development at Queen’s to improve workflow in A&E.
And Mr Zammett said that cast doubt on the trust’s 2014 target.
He explained: “The closure is now highly conditional, not just on the CQC but the new major development in A&E fitting in to a long term plan for Queen’s.
“One of the key factors in approval for the scheme will be affordability.
“If it costs too much, the closure of A&E at King George will be off the agenda for the foreseeable future.”
The announcement of a 2014 target has prompted SKGH campaigners to call on Redbridge Council to make a fresh demand that the government scrap its plans.
And the council will have to discuss that demand after campaigners handed them a petition with 2,500 signatures – enough to trigger a full council debate on the matter.
SKGH spokesman Cllr Andy Walker who represents Chadwell Heath, said: “The fact that BHRUT say they are postponing the move is a step forward because it shows that any claims about being ready to relocate to Queen's are nonsense.
“But they still have a date in mind and that makes it imperative that the council puts pressure on the government to scrap this ridiculous idea altogether.”
The campaign to save King George has cross party support in Redbridge.
Conservative Leader of Redbridge Council, Keith Prince said: “Both Lee Scott and Mike Gapes are in regular conversation with the secretary of state for health about this.
“I have also written to him, and no doubt we as a council will be more than happy to write to him again.
“But I am not sure we can do any more than we have already done.”
A spokeswomn for BHRUT said: "The end of 2014 for a transfer of services really is a "best guess" at this stage.
"Building work has not started at Queen's A&E.
"We still need to take a business case to our board, and then go through several approval processes before the funding is released centrally.
"It is expected that building work would then begin at some point in 2013.
"It is still too early to give specific dates and timescales. At this point we are still concentrating on improving the quality of care for our patients."