Axe falls on Central Middlesex Hospital children’s unit which loses �7k a week

One child a day is treated in specialist ward

A cash-strapped hospital trust which opened a children’s unit just 12 months ago plans to close it after revealing it is under-used and losing on average nearly �7,000 per week.

North West London Hospital’s Trust (NWLH) opened the consultant-led Paediatric Assessment Unit (PAU) at Central Middlesex Hospital, Acton Lane, Park Royal, in October last year.

But more youngsters are now being treated in a separate centre at the same hospital, which opened in March.

On average only one child a day is treated in the paediatric unit.

Specially trained medical and nursing staff have also raised concerns that they are becoming “de-skilled”.

According to a recent Brent NHS report: “On most days there are more staff working in the PAU than patients. There have already been a number of resignations among nursing staff.”

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The trust fears that further loss of staff, which has already been mooted, will impact on standards of quality and safety, which could put both patients and staff at risk.

As well as safety concerns, the unit is losing on average �6,629 per week.

NWLH, which also manages Northwick Park Hospital, faces �92million of cuts over the next three years, sparking fears for jobs and frontline services.

In light of the reduced demand, impact on staffing and the trust’s financial position, the unit is considered “clinically and financially unviable”.

A trust spokesman said the PAU service will be absorbed into the existing urgent care centre: “The vast majority of children will therefore not be affected by proposed changes and will continue to have their care at Central Middlesex Hospital, where the UCC is open 24 hours a day, seven days a week.”

However Stonebridge councillor Zaffar Van Kalwala said he was worried the plans were being driven by cuts.

He added: “This specialist unit has helped improve the lives of so many Brent children and continues to be a vital service for many families.

“Our children’s health must come first.”

The paediatric outpatient service and Brent Sickle Cell service will remain at Central Middlesex.

The plans will now be sent to the GP Commissioners to be approved. A closure date has not yet been set.

In 2008, the �3m birth centre at Central Middlesex Hospital was closed down four years after it opened.