Hours to be cut at Central Middlesex Hospital’s A&E

Shortage of doctors means department will not operate at night

Opening hours at Central Middlesex Hospital’s Accident and Emergency department will be cut over the winter months because there is a shortage of doctors.

The hospital’s A&E, in Acton Lane, Harlesden, will only be opened 11 hours a day from November 14, instead of the usual 24 hours a day.

North West London Hospitals Trust, which runs the department, said it is a temporary measure to ensure a safe and reliable service to patients.

It also claims a new GP-led Urgent Care Centre which opened at the hospital in March has led to a drop in the number of people needing to go to A&E and more doctors in the department leaving.

Professor Rory Shaw, medical director at the trust, said: "As a result, A&E staff are no longer seeing enough patients to maintain their clinical skills and expertise.

"When doctors leave, it is becoming increasingly difficult to recruit permanent replacements. "The onset of winter means this situation is likely to become even more challenging, as we predict a shortage of A&E doctors available during the night.

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"While this change will affect very few patients, I realise that local people may be concerned."

In March the A&E department was seeing 200 patients a day on average. Now it sees about 70 patients a day and normally only one or two people an hour go to A&E between 7pm and 8am.

Mr Shaw said: "Safety is our number one priority, which is why we have taken this decision, which we believe is in the best interests of patients. It is wiser to make planned closures at night, rather than risk having sporadic, unanticipated closures over the winter, which could cause major inconvenience to patients."

From November 14 ambulances will no longer take patients to the Central Middlesex Hospital A&E after 7pm.

After 7pm any patients who arrive via other routes, eg, on foot, by car or taxi, will be seen by a doctor at the Urgent Care Centre and may be redirected to other hospitals.

The Trust is moving the staff who currently work at Central Middlesex A&E across to Northwick Park Hospital.

This includes staff in administrative, nursing and medical departments.

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