Doctors are being told by health bosses to send patients needing emergency treatment to a hospital in Brent because Northwick Park Hospital is struggling to cope with demand.
The Harrow Times can reveal that the North West London Hospitals NHS Trust has asked the borough’s GPs to send patients needing treatment to Central Middlesex Hospital on the border of Brent and Ealing to ease the pressure.
But two doctors who spoke to the Harrow Times on condition of anonymity said they were unhappy at the policy as it meant patients needing urgent treatment having to travel further and relatives, sometimes elderly or disabled, finding it difficult to visit their family in hospital.
The fact that Northwick Park’s accident and emergency department is already struggling to cope with demand will be worrying for health chiefs, who put forward plans in June to close Central Middlesex’s A&E department – putting further strain on Harrow’s leading hospital.
David McVittie, chief executive of North West London Hospitals NHS Trust, said: “I want it to be clear that the trust has not been closing Northwick Park Hospital to emergency admissions.
“However, in light of the pressure on emergency services at Northwick Park, we have been asking GPs to refer appropriate patients to Central Middlesex Hospital, where they can be cared for safely and well.”
The most recently released data in August shows that Northwick Park missed targets on the time patients had to wait at A&E until their initial assessment and the total time they spent in the department – with the average patient spending more than five hours there.
Its performance has improved slightly since June, when patients spent an average of nearly eight hours in A&E.
Councillor Stanley Sheinwald, who represents Hatch End, said he it was “absurd” that his constituents could be asked to travel to Central Middlesex Hospital to visit their sick relatives.
He added: “It’s very worrying for elderly people who want to go and see their loved ones – if they haven’t got a car they would have to get the Tube to Harlesden and then it’s a long walk.”
Northwick Park has already been under fire recently for the price of its car parks, with 86-year-old grandmother Pamela Gershon handing a 1,500-strong petition to the trust calling for cheaper rates.