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Council to seek judicial review on A&E downgrades

PUBLISHED: 09:58 24 April 2013 | UPDATED: 20:26 24 April 2013

Ealing Council is to apply for a judicial review to challenge an NHS decision to close four casualty departments in north London.

The decision comes just days before a demonstration this Saturday to protest against the downgrades of emergency departments at Central Middlesex, Ealing, Charing Cross and Hammersmith hospitals.

Ealing Council’s cabinet last night agreed to apply for a judicial review, and its legal team is expected to lodge court papers in the next fortnight.

Concerns raised by the council include failure to take into account clinical evidence, insufficient public and patient engagement and inadequate public consultation.

Leader of the council, Cllr Julian Bell, said: “We are facing a David versus Goliath struggle to protect our local hospitals but will use every option open to us, including going to court, to fight to keep these vital services for our residents.

“Although times are tough and the council is facing increasing pressure on its finances, it is right we stand up and fight to protect local hospital services. If this means taking this battle to the courts, so be it.

“The changes being pushed through are not only the largest ever attempted in the history of the NHS, they are also completely untested – with our residents playing the part of unwilling guinea pigs. People are rightly frightened, angry and frustrated that their views are being so recklessly ignored.”

This Saturday’s demonstration includes two marches. The first will leave from Southall Park at 11.30am while the second will leave from Acton Park at 12.30pm. A rally will then begin at Ealing Common at 2pm.

Cllr Jasbir Anand, the council’s cabinet member for health and adult services, said: “We will continue to fight these cuts in every way we can. I would urge local people to join one of the protest marches this Saturday which will travel through the borough, ending up with a rally at Ealing Common.

“We do not feel local people have been consulted properly and the views of local GPs and consultants have been sidelined. We have numerous concerns about the safety of these plans and the impact on our community which the NHS has failed to address properly which is why we have referred the matter to the secretary of state and will continue to press for these plans to be scrapped.”

The changes are part of the Shaping a Healthier Future (SAHF) plan.

A spokesman for SAHF said: “It is a great shame that the politicians in this north west London borough are taking local doctors and other highly committed NHS professionals to court.

“This is a direct legal challenge to the many doctors, nurses and other committed NHS professionals who want to improve healthcare for their patients across north west London, and it will create a significant distraction from their day jobs.

“The court case will now mean a huge amount of extra work and resources at a time when there should be a major focus on what the NHS is actually there to do – namely, care for patients and improve local services.

“We do not want to speculate about exactly how long this will take, but clearly there will be an impact on the improvements the NHS had been hoping to make, not just in Ealing but across the seven other boroughs in north west London.”

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