'Lives will be lost' if plans to sell off Charing Cross Hospital go ahead, critics warn

Concern as shake-up leads to announcement that Imperial Healthcare NHS Trust is to sell off 55% of hospital

Health chiefs have revealed controversial plans to sell off more than half of Charing Cross Hospital in London in a bid to enhance facilities and improve clinical outcomes.

Imperial Healthcare NHS Trust recently voted through proposals to sell 55% of the site, with units including neurosurgery, stroke and urology moving out of the hospital altogether.

"There is a massive population expansion going on in this part of west London and yet they are closing A&Es. This is very short-sighted and it is going to cost lives

Under the plans, the current hospital building will be replaced with a £150m new-build development, with additional purpose-built facilities developed at nearby St Mary's Hospital.

And, while the trust has denied plans to close the A&E department, opponents of the scheme believe the work will lead to the loss or downgrading of the service.

The shake-up is part of the trust’s clinical strategy designed to improve clinical outcomes and enhance the patient experience to help people stay as healthy as possible and to increase access to the most-effective specialist care.

Under the plans there would be a 24-hour urgent care centre at Charing Cross, but the number of inpatient beds would fall from 360 to 24. The Western Eye Hospital and 45% of St Mary's would also be sold.

On the future of the A&E unit at Charing Cross, a trust spokesman said it was waiting for ‘further guidance from NHS England’.

He added that the proposals were still subject to central approval from the NHS Trust Development Authority.

The plans have been heavily criticised, with Andy Slaughter, Labour MP for Hammersmith, claiming patients will suffer.

"There is a massive population expansion going on in this part of west London and yet they are closing A&Es. This is very short-sighted and it is going to cost lives," he said.

On 10 September the trust's A&E unit at Hammersmith will close, with it being downgraded to a 24-hour urgent care centre for walk-in patients, while emergency patients will be redirected to St Mary's in Paddington.

Over the past three years, Imperial College Healthcare NHS Trust has saved £127m, but needs to cut £207m from its budget by 2019.

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