On Wednesday 17th December, Andrew Panniker, the Director of Capital & Estates at the Royal Free London NHS Foundation Trust, revealed that the proposed redevelopment of Chase Farm Hospital was to be reduced in size to save money – this on the very same day the Prime Minister announced the 2 hour a day extension to the urgent care opening hours on the site.
Residents and Councillors alike were stunned at the news that the Highlands wing is to be abandoned now. It will be mothballed for the time being and the fear is that it will be sold off, after the new build is scheduled to be completed in 2018. The original redevelopment plans for the site included Highlands wing as the outpatients department. This is no longer considered affordable, despite the fact that Mr Panniker could not give any costings or indication of the savings required. Labour Cllr. Alev Cazimoglu said that “we appear to be getting an extra two hours urgent care at the expense of the Highlands Wing.”
Joan Ryan, Labour’s Parliamentary Candidate for Enfield North, said:
“The proposals for the redevelopment of Chase Farm Hospital were small to begin with. Now they are smaller still with the announcement of the closure of the Highlands wing. After all public consultation that has taken place, it is outrageous to reduce radically the plans in this way, just months before the rebuild begins. It is not the first time that the Tories have rundown and sold off our health facilities. The War Memorial Hospital, and Highlands Hospital were all closed under the Tories. I fear they are trying to do something similar again.
The Prime Minister got it wrong at PMQs when he said the Government had set aside £230million for Chase Farm. Only £100million is coming from the Government, with the rest provided through land sales and by the Royal Free. Much of this money will be used to sustain services only, rather than improve them, because the deficit has not been dealt with over the last five years.
We are crying out for better services in Enfield. Yet, whilst the expansion of opening hours at Chase Farm’s Urgent Care Centre is good news, it is not good enough. Currently, the Centre does not provide the services required. It is meant to treat minor injuries, however I have spoken with some patients who have been sent onto Barnet Hospital, because Chase Farm cannot deal with simple procedures such as stitches in the hand and x-rays for broken bones. This is not acceptable. The Urgent Care provision at Chase Farm must be, at the very least, the same standard as that offered at North Mid’s Centre. Urgent care needs upgrading as well as longer opening hours.
In addition, the Enfield Clinical Commissioning Group, which made the decision to increase the opening hours, have made it clear that this will be guaranteed only up until the summer of 2015, when a full, urgent care review will take place.”