APOH suspended

The Chief Executive of the NHS in London has confirmed to Old Bexley & Sidcup MP James Brokenshire that the controversial ‘A Picture of Health' plans for hospital care in Outer South East London have been put on hold pending a formal re-examination. In a letter to the MP, Ruth Carnall revealed that Simon Robbins - the Chief Executive of Bromley PCT and the South East London Sector NHS Chief Executive - had been appointed to lead the review into proposed changes to hospital services at Queen Mary's Sidcup, Queen Elizabeth and Princess Royal University hospitals.

The news confirms the earlier announcement by the Secretary of State for Health, Rt. Hon. Andrew Lansley MP, that hospital reorganisations should be tested to ensure that they satisfy four new criteria:

1. Support from GP commissioners will be essential;
2. Arrangements for public and patient engagement, including local authorities should be further strengthened;
3. There should be greater clarity about the clinical evidence base underpinning proposals;
4. That proposals should take into account the need to develop and support patient choice.

Ms Carnall said:

"The review will focus on the implications of the strategy for South London Healthcare NHS Trust, including those for the Queen Mary's Sidcup site. This means that implementation of the decisions taken by the Joint Committee of PCTs on 21 July 2008 will be suspended, pending the outcome of the review."

In a separate letter to James Brokenshire, the Health Minister Simon Burns MP has said that the South London Healthcare NHS Trust "welcomes and will follow the Department of Health's guidance". Mr Burns added that:

"The Trust is awaiting further clarity from the Department about how to implement the guidance locally. I am informed that, in the meantime, the Trust will increase its dialogue with local GPs."

Commenting James Brokenshire said:

"I welcome the commencement of the formal review into local hospital changes. NHS London has rightly underlined the need for this to be a meaningful process. Significant concerns were expressed when ‘A Picture of Health' was originally drawn up and it's important that the clinical case for change is re-assessed. I will be making strong representations on the importance of retaining services locally and securing the long-term future of Queen Mary's, Sidcup.

"The views of local doctors will be a significant part of the review. That's why I'm continuing to meet with local GP practices to underline to them the essential role they have to play. The public also need to be involved given that patient choice is a key factor. I will be working with other Parliamentary colleagues to makes these points clear once the details of the review process have been finalised."