Accident and Emergency Closures in West London

MQT on 2014-09-17
Session date: 
September 17, 2014
Question By: 
Onkar Sahota
Labour Group
Asked Of: 
The Mayor


What representations have you made about protecting health services in West London after reading the CQC Report on North West London Hospital Trusts poor performance?


Answer for Accident and Emergency Closures in West London

Answer for Accident and Emergency Closures in West London

Answered By: 
The Mayor

Boris Johnson (Mayor of London):  Dr Sahota, we are working with NHS England’s London office to seek assurances and we have sought assurances from Anne Rainsberry [Regional Director, London, NHS England] and others that the centralising of the A&E services will ensure better specialised emergency care.  We have had all sorts of breakdowns from them about how they say it will be better.  Obviously this is unfortunately not something over which I have the direct control that you and I would both want this body to have.  By the way, we should be working at a strategic level to make sure that the emergency service, the London Ambulance Service, is properly supported.  There are grounds for concern there are as well. 

Dr Onkar Sahota AM:  Mr Mayor, which two A&E departments are the residents of Uxbridge and South Ruislip most likely to use? 

Boris Johnson (Mayor of London):  As you know, I am the Mayor of the entire city and if you wish to ask me questions in my capacity as ‑‑ 

Dr Onkar Sahota AM:  Yes, I am. 

Boris Johnson (Mayor of London):  ‑‑ MP for South Ruislip ‑‑ 

Dr Onkar Sahota AM:  I am not.  I am asking questions of the Mayor and the Mayor -- 

Boris Johnson (Mayor of London):  ‑‑ then I advise you to ‑‑ 

Roger Evans AM (Chairman):  Can I just stop you there?  

Boris Johnson (Mayor of London):  ‑‑ come to my surgery if and when I am elected and I will be only too happy to serve you.  At the moment, it would be premature and indeed pretentious, to answer any such -- 

Dr Onkar Sahota AM:  OK, Mr Mayor.  I will try again ‑‑

Roger Evans AM (Chairman):  Just to be clear, it is the purpose of this session to address questions to you in your capacity as Mayor of London.  

Dr Onkar Sahota AM:  Mr Mayor, the residents of west London and northwest London, which two A&E departments are they most likely to use, who may live in my constituency of Ealing and Hillingdon? 

Boris Johnson (Mayor of London):  As I say, if you want to ask me about questions relating to Uxbridge, you are welcome to do that in my surgery.  If you are asking ‑‑ 

Dr Onkar Sahota AM:  I am asking about my constituency.  What A&E department would ‑‑

Boris Johnson (Mayor of London):  In my job, as you know full well, I do not have responsibility for A&E services ‑‑ 

Dr Onkar Sahota AM:  But you have a responsibility to look after the ‑‑ 

Boris Johnson (Mayor of London):  ‑‑ much though I wish I did. 

Dr Onkar Sahota AM:  You cannot answer the question, so I will help you on that.  I will help you on it, Mayor. 

Boris Johnson (Mayor of London):  The central Middlesex A&E and Northwick Park ‑‑ 

Dr Onkar Sahota AM:  Mr Mayor, I will help you with the answer.

Boris Johnson (Mayor of London):  I am assured that those changes will lead to Northwick Park Hospital’s A&E being able to cope with the influx and obviously I hope that that will be the case. 

Dr Onkar Sahota AM:  OK.  Mr Mayor, the reason I raise this question is that in northwest London, there are nine A&E departments and four of them are going to close.  The key ones that concern me particularly are ones in Hillingdon Hospital, Ealing Hospital and Northwick Park.  Northwick Park has had a Care Quality Commission (CQC) report that says that it needs improving and is not coping.  Hillingdon Hospital, which actually is one of the A&Es which the residents of Uxbridge and South Ruislip will be using, has failed to reach any targets this year but one on the A&E measures.  Given these factors, there is an increasing pressure and inequalities are taking place.  What have you done?  I wrote to you on 2 September raising these questions.  Did you do anything in response to my letter? 

Boris Johnson (Mayor of London):  As I said at the beginning of my answer, Onkar, we have regular meetings with Anne Rainsberry [Regional Director, London, NHS England] about the issue that you have raised.  She has not referred to the problem at Hillingdon specifically, but she has assured us in respect of the other A&Es that the coverage that will be provided when the Northwick Park A&E opens in the autumn will be more than adequate for the purpose.  The difficulty, as you know, is that this is not like the Central line or the Circle line, which has gone out this morning, much to my irritation.  This is something over which I do not have the budget.  I do not take the key strategic decisions.  I cannot say, “Look, this is obviously what needs to be done here.  Here you need to have an amalgamation”. 

For instance, on ticket office closures or on police station closures or whatever it happens to be, those are decisions with which I am directly involved, because I control or very largely control the funding.  This is an area where I have neither the funding nor the legal locus standi to make a decisive intervention.  What I can do is seek assurances from professionals, who tell me that the changes that are in hand are in the interests of patients.  That is the best I can do and that is what I am told by Anne Rainsberry.  That is what I am told by NHS England’s London division. 

Dr Onkar Sahota AM:  Mr Mayor, thank you for your answer.  I accept what you say mostly, but you do have a very strong voice for Londoners and you should exercise that. 

Boris Johnson (Mayor of London):  You have to appreciate, Onkar, that I also have a job to explain sometimes to Londoners where, if health professionals say that they think a reform is good and justified, I am not necessarily always going to oppose it just because there may be votes in doing so.  Sometimes it is our job as politicians to tell hard truths and you have seen what we have had to do over fire stations, which was by no means easy, or over police stations.  Sometimes reform and reconfiguration can be the best way forward for a service, sometimes it may be that clinicians and professionals should be trusted.