Nick Clegg visited Kingston Hospital last Saturday to lend his support to the fight against the alleged planned closure of its A&E and maternity depar
By Ima Jackson-Obot
Nick Clegg visited Kingston Hospital last Saturday to lend his support to the fight against the alleged planned closure of its A&E and maternity departments.
With 5,700 births and 103,000 visits to A&E last year, shutting them down would impact on a large number of residents who live in the Raynes Park, Dundonald and West Barnes area.
Without these departments in the hospital where Nick Clegg’s son, Miguel, was born, residents will have to travel further to St George’s Hospital in Tooting to get medical treatment.
This prompted the Parliamentary Candidate for Merton, Shas Sheehan to start a campaign with other local MPs including Vince Cable, Edward Davey and Susan Kramer.
Ms Sheehan said: “Residents are extremely concerned and are ready to do what is necessary to save the hospital.”
She believes that her campaign in Wimbledon to Save Kingston Hospital is the most important local issue of her political life to date.
It was launched in January, after she and the other MPs became aware of the NHS management commissioned review of services in South London, conducted by management consultants McKinsey & Co.
At the time, they were told the document did not exist, however a copy of some of the most relevant pages was leaked to the MPs by someone within the NHS.
The South West London Strategic Plan outlined 18 options for cuts involving four local hospitals; St Helier, St George’s, Mayday and Kingston.
Kingston is thought to be the most likely victim, as Mayday is in an area of relative deprivation which gives it some special protection, and the other two are in line to receive future funding initiatives.
It is widely believed that the review was commissioned to devise ways in which to save money for the NHS.
There has been no denial by the NHS management and further discussion and decisions are unlikely to be made before the General election.
Ms Sheehan added: “There should be transparency about this matter, involving all key stake-holders, BMA (the British Medical Association) representatives, patient groups and local MPs.”
She believes that the threat to Kingston Hospital is real and once key services such as A&E and Maternity are lost, the rest of the hospital will wither.
Nick Clegg has given his guarantee to keep the NHS safe if voted in to office.
He said: “We will cut waste and make sure that frontline services are maintained and improved for people everywhere.”
The BMA commissioned a report, London’s NHS : On the Brink, in January about the state of the NHS and its management’s secretive behaviour.
It suggested that a record number of beds and hospitals in London could close as the health services in the capital head towards a major financial and organisational crisis as budgets are frozen from 2011.
It also explained that any closure of a hospital within a trust will result in huge pressures on the remaining ones.
A BMA spokesman added: “The report was concerned that plans were being made for financial reasons rather than clinical ones and recommended that they should be made with staff consultation.
“We are not aware of any decisions about what’s going on at any particular hospital.”
Kingston Hospital NHS Trust were unable to comment further at this time.