Second delay for opening of £21m Northwick Park A&E
- Credit: Archant
Health chiefs have pushed back the opening date for the new £21million casualty unit at Northwick Park Hospital, forcing them to admit it may not be ready before the winter.
The opening of the revamped unit at the hospital in Watford Road, Sudbury, is now pencilled in for December after being delayed twice from October and then mid- November.
The news comes as London North West Healthcare NHS Trust (LNWH), which manages the hospital, has failed to meet current waiting time targets as it struggles to cope with three times the predicted increase in admissions following the closure of the A&E department at Central Middlesex Hospital in Park Royal.
According to the latest figures, only 75.5 per cent of patients were seen within four hours at the casualty units in NPH and Ealing Hospital, significantly below the 95 per cent NHS target.
Bosses at the trust had estimated the closure would result in five more admission per day instead of the 15 they are currently experiencing.
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The delay has fuelled fears that the hospital will not be able to cope with an increase in admissions caused by the cold weather.
Leslie Clyne, a health campaigner from Kilburn, said: “If they can’t cope now, how on earth are they going to cope during the busy Christmas period?
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“They should have finalised the opening date of the new centre before closing Central Middlesex’s A&E.
“As usual, resident will feel the brunt of this decision.”
Sarah Cox, a health campaigner based in Harlesden, said: “The delay is not good news for residents and the whole situation is an utter mess and appalling, quite frankly.
“MPH was struggling to cope even before the closure of the A&E unit at CMH. With the winter period upon us, which usually results in additional pressure being put on health services, the borough needs the new centre as soon as possible.
“We need to get to the bottom of what the cause of delay is to the opening of the new centre.
Barry Gardiner, the Labour MP for Brent North, supported the closure of the A&E unit at CMH but had asked the trust to ensure the new unit at NPH was opened first.
He told the Times: “The whole situation moves from sheer incompetence to deliberate misinformation.
“Things have clearly not gone according to their plans. They should have reviewed their position before cutting the safety net of having an A&E at Central Middlesex.”
In mid-September, the hospital opened a new 20-bed acute medical unit to cope with the pressures caused by the increase in patients. According to the trust, it prevented 10 hospital admissions in its first 24 hours of opening.
The new A&E unit at NPH will include 40 individual bays and will have more nurses working, with 30 nurses per shift compared to the current 23 when it opens.
David McVittie, chief executive of LNWH, said: “A great deal of careful planning is required to enable the new A&E to open at Northwick Park Hospital.
“We are working with partner organisations, including other NHS Trusts and the London Ambulance Service, to ensure that the whole of North West London is fully prepared.”