James Brokenshire has called on local hospital chiefs to defer any decision on the ‘temporary' closures of A&E and maternity services at Queen Mary's Sidcup until an independent safety audit has reported. Hospital staff told the MP on Friday that the Care Quality Commission (CQC) had made an unannounced visit at Queen Mary's this week to assess clinical safety issues at the three hospitals within the South London Healthcare Trust. The audit is taking place after James Brokenshire sought reassurance from the CQC about care standards after receiving complaints by hospital consultants over patient safety.
Commenting James Brokenshire said:
"It would be perverse for the Care Quality Commission to give Queen Mary's a clean bill of health when the hospital management have decided to close services on the apparent justification that they are on the verge of collapse over the winter. The CQC have previously made clear to me that if they discover serious problems they would either require immediate closure or urgent remedial action themselves.
"For the Trust to push ahead with such significant proposals when this independent audit is being undertaken would lend support to the view of many that such moves are being taken for policy rather than patient safety reasons. If the CQC support the conclusions of the Trust on patient safety this would at the very least give us all external validation on such an important decision. If not, health mangers should stop and think again."
James Brokenshire has written to the Chairman of the South London Healthcare (NHS) Trust urging him in the strongest terms to put off making their decision until feedback from the CQC review has been received.