Get involved: send your pictures, video, news & views by texting Harrow Times to 80360, or email us
Health authority's £7m spending on A&E closures consultation 'staggering and scandalous', says Brent and Harrow AM
A consultation on the plan to downgrade Central Middlesex Hospital and increase services at Northwick Park cost £7million, it has been revealed.
Figures released after a freedom of information request show the huge sum was spent by NHS North West London on its 18-month process to consult over the reorganisation of the area’s hospitals – with £3m alone paid to a consultancy firm.
The company, McKinsey, was paid to work out the financial costs and savings for the proposals, which the health authority argues will improve care despite four accident and emergency departments closing under the plan.
Another £650,000 was paid to public relations firm London Communications Agency, who distributed 500,000 leaflets and organised meetings with those affected.
London Assembly Member for Brent and Harrow, Navin Shah, who is campaigning for the A&E closures to be scrapped, labelled the spending “staggering and scandalous”.
He added: “We are talking about a plan that’s supposed to find savings and then we are throwing away money on this.
“Why are we spending millions of pounds on the kind of consultation where everybody knows a decision has already been taken? It’s a sham.”
Spending also included nearly £1.5m on offices and an extra £1m on communications by the authority from April as consultation got underway – it closed earlier this month and responses are now being considered.
NHS North West London’s preferred plan is to downgrade Central Middlesex Hospital’s accident and emergency department to an urgent care centre and make Northwick Park and Hillingdon hospitals the major hospitals for the area.
The proposals, which would come into force in 2016 at the earliest, would mean Northwick Park, which is currently undergoing a £20m redevelopment of its A&E department and is already missing targets, would see an increased demand.
But the health authority believes that the pressure on A&E can be reduced by improving out-of-hospital care for older people and reducing unnecessary referrals from GPs.
It believes that the reorganisation will mean higher volumes of income-generating work will be done at Northwick Park to help it balance its books – it is currently forecast to continue with a long-term deficit.
Final recommendations put forward by NHS North West London are expected to be considered by February next year, with three years of work to develop out-of-hospital care before any changes would be able to be made to any hospitals.
NHS North West London has not responded to the Harrow Times.