James Brokenshire has issued the following statement in response to today's announcement by the South London Healthcare (NHS) Trust that accident & emergency and maternity services at Queen Mary's Hospital will be closed before Christmas on a ‘temporary' basis for clinical safety reasons.
"I am angered and deeply disturbed by this news which risks pre-empting the forthcoming review of local hospital services demanded by the Government. Whilst I fully recognise the need for clinical services to be provided safely, I am unconvinced that all necessary efforts have been made to retain and maintain services at Queen Mary's. We have been here before with the previous ‘temporary' closure of overnight A&E services which has turned into a permanent situation. At the very least there needs to be a demonstration of the recovery plan intended to be put in place by the Trust to restore services as quickly as possible.
"I am equally dismayed by the way in which this announcement has been made without any proper opportunity to test the assumptions behind such a significant decision. I am seeking an urgent meeting with the Trust to seek clarification of these proposals and how they believe other local hospitals will be able to cope with increased patient demand. I have also contacted the Department of Health to underline my belief that this action could frustrate the Secretary of State's stated intention to enable communities and GPs to decide on the services that should be provided at local hospitals.
"Whilst the concerns over clinical safety may be genuine, I simply fail to see how this decision will improve the overall quality of care and access to services for Bexley residents - including my own family."