Health bosses admit casualty unit closure could happen before alternative A&E is up to scratch

Central Middlesex Hospital to lose its casualty unit

Central Middlesex Hospital to lose its casualty unit - Credit: Archant

Axe may fall on Central Middlesex Hospital while Northwick Park Hospital is undergoing mutli-million pound refit

Northwick Park Hospital

Northwick Park Hospital - Credit: Getty Images

Health bosses have admitted that Central Middlesex Hospital’s (CMH) Accident and Emergency (A&E) unit could close before improvements to the overstretched casualty unit at Northwick Park are made.

The admission comes following last night’s decision to press ahead with the closure plans which form part of the Shaping a Healthier Future scheme, an NHS programme aiming to transform healthcare in eight north west London boroughs.

Under the plans, which were announced in July last year, but finally rubber stamped last night, CMH in Acton Lane, Harlesden, will be downgraded to an elective local hospital.

The A&E, which was rebuilt at a cost of £62m six years ago, will completely close.

But Daniel Elkeles, a senior officer for SAHF admitted the borough’s other A&E at Northwick Park in Watford Road, Sudbury, is currently “not fit for purpose” but may have to act as the borough’s sole unit.

He said: “We have secured £20m to redevelop the A&E unit to make it bigger and better and bring it fully up to standard.

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“However, we cannot rule out closing CMH if it gets to the stage where it is not safe to manage.”

It is expected the entire scheme will be implemented within 5 years and will also result in Charing Cross Hammersmith and Ealing Hospitals losing their A&E units.

In a further admission it was also revealed there were no plans to re-open the unit overnight to deal with the increase of patients at Northwick Park.

The A&E unit at CMH has been closed overnight since last year but Dr Mark Spencer, the medical director for SAHF said it was not safe to open over night.

He added: “The A&E at CMH is already dealing with less patients than average because most can be seen at the Urgent Care Centre.”

The plans have been criticised by campaigners since they were announced who have now suggested they may seek a judicial review.

However, SAHF insist the plans will save lives and have also said they will be investing £190m into out of hospital care to improve community facilities.