NHS bosses grilled over surging A&E waiting times in Brent

Central Middlesex Hospital lost its A&E unit last September

Central Middlesex Hospital lost its A&E unit last September - Credit: Archant

NHS bosses were grilled by health and legal experts as part of an independent investigation into surging A&E waiting times following the closure of casualty units serving Brent residents.

Cllr Muhammed Butt denies the councillor's claims

Cllr Muhammed Butt denies the councillor's claims - Credit: Archant

The special hearing at Brent Civic Centre last week, marked the end of an eight-week independent probe that will examine whether the closure of Central Middlesex and Hammersmith hospitals A&E units contributed to the increased times.

The casualty units were axed as part of the controversial ‘Shaping a Healthier Future’ (SAHF) programme which was rolled out across North west and West London by the NHS.

Concerned by surge in waiting times, Brent, Hammersmith and Fulham and Ealing councils commissioned an independent investigation headed up by Michael Mansfield QC, who represented the family of murder victim Stephen Lawrence.

At the hearing a range of local residents, health service providers and elected members aired their concerns about the impact the closures have had on the community.

Michael Mansfield QC is chairing the independent commission

Michael Mansfield QC is chairing the independent commission - Credit: Archant

Cllr Muhammed Butt, leader of Brent Council, said: “All along we have warned about the impact that the Shaping a Healthier Future Programme would have for Brent residents. The ridiculously long A&E waiting times that followed the closures late last year demonstrated that our worst fears had become reality.

“The Shaping a Healthier Future programme is now getting the independent scrutiny it needs.”

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Dr Stephen Hirst, a retired GP from Chiswick, described the SAHF programme as a “juggernaut that has started and was impossible to stop.”

A report on the findings will be published in July.

Tina Benson, director of operations at the trust, said: “This winter the whole of the NHS experienced significant pressures, including an increase in the number of patients who were acutely unwell and in need of 1:1 care.

“Since the winter we have taken some innovative steps to improve clinical processes across the Trust and we’ve seen real progress in reducing the number of patients waiting more than four hours before being admitted or discharged from A&E.

“In addition, 63 new beds are currently being built at Northwick Park Hospital to increase our capacity and we are reviewing how we can make better use of our community beds.”

Related link: Top barrister to investigate impact of A&E closures on Brent residentsInvestigation launched into hospital trust’s A&E waiting time figures Worst A&E waiting times in London at Northwick Park and Ealing Hospital