The crisis at North Middlesex University Hospital NHS Trust, and the possible closure of its A&E department on safety grounds, has major implications for residents in North London, health services in the capital and the NHS as a whole.
It would be a disaster if the A&E had to shut.
I, Kate Osamor, David Lammy and Catherine West - my fellow London Labour MPs with constituencies most affected by the situation at North Middlesex Hospital –will work with anyone to ensure this does not happen and to stop this situation getting any worse. I am pleased that we and David Burrowes, the Member of Parliament for Enfield Southgate, will be meeting shortly with the Health Minister, Ben Gummer MP, to discuss the best way forward on this issue.
We are calling on the Secretary of State for Health, North Middlesex University Hospital NHS Trust, NHS England, Health Education England (HEE), the General Medical Council (GMC) and the Care Quality Commission (CQC) to provide full disclosure about the crisis at the hospital and to work with us and our communities to put a credible recovery plan in place.
Many people from Enfield and further afield who campaigned with me to protect the casualty unit at Chase Farm Hospital in my constituency warned at the time it was closed three years ago that a huge strain would be placed on other local health services, including the A&E at North Mid. A CQC report from August 2014 said that “services [at the hospital] were struggling with this additional workload and further work is required to ensure that the quality of service does not suffer as a result of the number of patients now being treated.”
Almost two years after the CQC’s findings were published North Mid's A&E only has half the doctors it needs to provide a safe level of care to its patients. In fact, things have got so bad that one night earlier this year people – many of whom had been waiting for hours – were told that unless their illness was life-threatening they had to go home. That can't be right – and how can anyone be expected to know just how ill they are, without seeing a doctor?
The GMC and HEE are even threatening to withdraw junior doctors from the hospital, due to inadequate support and supervision and the risk this could cause to patients. Services at North Mid's A&E will effectively have to be downgraded, or shut, which would be unprecedented in the NHS’ history. And think of how much further people in Enfield and surrounding areas would have to travel to get to hospital – and how much pressure it would put on hospitals like University College Hospital in Euston, and the Royal Free Hospital in Hampstead.
Kate, David Lammy and Catherine have, along with me, been consistently raising concerns in Parliament, talking with Government ministers, and meeting hospital bosses about the level of care residents in our communities are receiving. However, even we have not been informed of some of the recent, disastrous developments which have been exposed by The Guardian newspaper this week.
We will be closely monitoring the situation at the hospital, supporting the dedicated frontline medical staff who work there and putting pressure on the government to provide the extra doctors required, so that North Mid and our NHS provides the service our constituents deserve.