On Tuesday 21st June, Catherine West MP, Kate Osamor MP and I met with the Chief Executive of North Middlesex University Hospital NHS Trust, Julie Lowe, to discuss the crisis at the hospital and the risks to patient safety which could force the Accident and Emergency Department to close.
Improving the care of patients is my top priority. Whilst I have serious concerns about how this situation has been allowed to deteriorate, to call for a change in the hospital’s leadership at this stage could lead to further turmoil and undermine North Mid’s recovery efforts.
Ms Lowe said measures had already been taken to address some of the key areas of concerns raised by inspection teams, from Health Education England (HEE) and the Care Quality Commission (CQC), who had visited the hospital in recent months. She assured us that junior doctors and trainees were no longer being left without competent, senior support in the A&E and the paediatric Emergency Department. Medical equipment for immediate use in the resuscitation area of the A&E, which had previously been unavailable or damaged, had now been replaced. And North Mid was working to fill the vacancies for middle grade and consultant emergency department doctors, including loaning staff from other hospitals, like Barnet General. A new medical director, Cathy Gayle, with responsibility for A&E will also be in place within weeks.
Despite the actions which have been taken, Julie Lowe acknowledged the hospital needs to work much faster to address all the problems it faces. The situation remains critical and the CQC has given North Mid until 26th August to make significant improvements in the quality of the health care it provides to patients in the Emergency Department.
I will not allow this A&E to close. I will be speaking to Julie Lowe on a weekly basis to review the implementation of their action plan. Kate Osamor and I also met the Chief Executive and Chair of the Royal Free London NHS Trust, on Thursday 24th June, to discuss the steps they are taking to support North Mid in managing this crisis. Fellow North London MPs and I will be meeting the Health Minister, Ben Gummer MP, this week to urge the government to intervene.
I’ll be calling on the government to address the shortage of doctors at the hospital and for a guarantee from the Prime Minister that the Emergency Department at North Mid will be protected in the short and long term.