Charing Cross sell-off vital to avoid ‘disastrous’ PFI deal, insists hospital chairman


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Sell-off plans: Charing Cross hospital

Sell-off plans: Charing Cross hospital

The sale of a large part of the Charing Cross hospital site is the only way to avoid using a “disastrous” PFI deal to fund rebuilding plans, campaigners have been told.

In angry scenes, Sir Richard Sykes, chairman of Imperial College NHS trust, said there was a pressing need to upgrade its sister hospital, St Mary’s, and convert Charing Cross into an outpatient day surgery hospital.

He said: “If we are going to spend £650 million to bring our hospitals up to modern standards, that £650 million has got to come from somewhere, and the Government are not handing out money, as we know.

“PFIs for many hospitals are disastrous. There’s a £7 billion PFI and Barts and they pay £100 million in interest [a year] before they even see a patient. We don’t want to go down that route.”

Under Imperial’s plans, land sales would generate £242 million, leaving it to borrow a further £408 million from the Department of Health’s independent trust finance facility.

Charing Cross would be reduced in size by about four-fifths and would lose 336 inpatient beds and have its accident and emergency department downgraded to an “emergency centre” of as yet unknown capacity to treat the most critically ill patients.

Concerns over the A&E at Charing Cross intensified when the emergency unit at Hammersmith and A&E at Central Middlesex hospitals closed on September 10.

Sir Richard, fighting back against hostility from Save Our Hospitals campaigners at Imperial’s AGM on September 24, told them: “We don’t have any choice. We have a 19th century, 18th century estate on one of our sites [St Mary’s], trying to deliver healthcare to the best possible quality for your benefit.

“If we don’t do that we will be in serious, serious trouble. There will be all sorts of problems. We have to rebuild our estate for your benefit, not for mine.”

The changes at St Mary’s, in Paddington, and at Charing Cross, in Hammersmith, are part of a five-year plan to treat more people in the community.

Andy Slaughter challenges Tracey Batten at Imperial's AGM

Andy Slaughter challenges Tracey Batten at Imperial’s AGM

Andy Slaughter, Labour MP for Hammersmith, said challenged Dr Tracey Batten, Imperial’s chief executive, to guarantee that “there will be no further closures or run-down of services, particularly at Charing Cross, unless and until you can demonstrate there is not a demand for these services”. He added: “Not to do that will be incredibly irresponsible.”

Dr Batten said the trust was “guided by our clinicians” in all the proposed changes. She said: “We can only change the number of beds within our facilities when these community services are established. That is the way we need to work.”

London Ambulance Service ranked worst NHS organisation in the capital – by its own staff


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The London Ambulance Service faced a new crisis today when the first TripAdvisor-style NHS staff survey found a third of its employees would not recommend its care to their friends and family.

The service, which has been hit by dire staff shortages and a massive increase in 999 calls, was the worst performer of all NHS trusts in the capital in terms of staff satisfaction.

A total of 33 per cent said they would not recommend its care to their friends and family. Only 46 per cent said they would – also the lowest positive rating out of 39 hospital, mental health and community NHS organisations in London.

Of the 384 responses, only 15 per cent of ambulance staff would recommend it as a place to work, while 71 per cent said they would not recommend it to family and friends – again the worst scores of any London NHS organisation.

Last week London Ambulance Service announced that thousands of Londoners who dialled 999 would no longer receive an emergency ambulance after soaring demand and staff shortages forced health chiefs to prioritise the sickest patients.

Its control centre has been deluged with almost 15,000 extra calls a month, up 11 per cent year-on-year – while having 450 fewer front-line staff due to a recruitment and retention crisis.

Efforts are being made to recruit about 250 paramedics from Australia and New Zealand. The service should have 3,000 front-line staff but is short of 320 paramedics and 130 emergency medical technicians.

A London Ambulance spokeswoman said: “We know our ambulance crews and control room staff provide outstanding patient care daily and the hundreds of letters of thanks and praise we get from patients confirms this.

“These are the views of eight per cent of our workforce, however, we are working hard to improve our response time to Londoners but with increasing demand some patients with minor injuries may wait longer for an ambulance response.”

Today’s results were based on an expansion of the friends and family test to include staff responses. Previously it was only patients who were able to vote.

The Royal National Orthopaedic Hospital, in Stanmore, was voted the best place to receive care, backed by 98 per cent of staff.

The best places to work were the Royal Brompton and Harefield and Royal Free trusts, each scoring 87 per cent support from their employees.

Health chief under fire over A&E changes calls for NHS to focus on ‘wellness’ not ‘illness’

A hospital boss today called for the public to become less reliant on A&E units as she prepared to face hundreds of campaigners fighting to save Charing Cross hospital.

Dr Tracey Batten, the new chief executive of Imperial College NHS trust, said the NHS had to switch priority from “illness to wellness” in a major reorganisation of services across north-west London.

Imperial has been hit by a backlash from Save Our Hospital campaigners, Labour MPs and Hammersmith and Fulham council over plans to axe 336 inpatient beds at Charing Cross and turn it into a much smaller daycare hospital.

Imperial College NHS chief executive Dr Tracey Batten

Imperial College NHS chief executive Dr Tracey Batten

Dr Batten used an interview with the Standard ahead of the trust’s annual meeting tonight to call for the public to be better educated in the benefits of being treated at home or in the community rather than in hospital.

She says preventative care could minimise the risk of heart attack, while alternative “pathways of care” could be developed for stroke patients and those undergoing hip replacements.

She said: “One thing I would say about this reorganisation is that if you look at the NHS, it has traditionally been quite an illness-led healthcare system.

“When people get sick, they come into hospital and we treat them incredibly well. That has skewed healthcare dollars towards the hospital end of the provision.

“There is no doubt going forward we do need to shift from an illness to a wellness model. We do need to shift the balance between you getting ill and coming into my hospital and us keeping you well at home.”

Despite the closure two weeks ago [September 10] of the emergency unit at Hammersmith hospital, also run by Imperial, and its replacement with an urgent care centre, Dr Batten insisted changes at Charing Cross would not happen “for a couple of years”.

Its A&E will become an “emergency centre” – but she admitted she was not yet sure what this would contain due to the lack of “crystal clear” guidance from NHS England.

“It doesn’t surprise me that people are very attached to the physical hospital and the A&E department because of what it symbolises,” she said. “But should we be so reliant on them in the way we have been? No we shouldn’t.

“If you take my mum in her 80s, is she better turning up to the A&E department? It’s the last thing she wants to be doing. She wants to get the care she needs in her local community or at home. I think that is the same for most of us.

“If people knew they had different options [to A&E], they would probably go for these different options.”

She added: “At the AGM, it’s about trying to give them that reassurance that we’re not going to do this in a vacuum. You can never engage too much and you can never communicate too much. We haven’t been perfect. I would be the first to admit that.”

Imperial has previously admitted the closure of Hammersmith’s A&E unit could cause knock-on problems at St Mary’s hospital.

But the Australian, who arrived at Imperial in April, said she had no wish to abandon the principles of the controversial Shaping a Healthier Future strategy, which reduces from nine to five the number of A&Es in north-west London.

“You can go round the mulberry bush many times. I’m not sure that is going to get us much further than where we are.”

Kate and William leave the Lindo wing with  Prince George

Kate and William leave the Lindo wing with Prince George

* The Duchess of Cambridge would be welcomed with “open arms” by St Mary’s hospital if she chose it for the birth of her second child.

Kate gave birth to Prince George last year at the private Lindo wing, and she is expected to return there next year. The Lindo was also where Princess Diana gave birth to William and Harry.

Dr Batten said: “We would obviously be delighted if she decides to have her second child here. We would embrace her with open arms. We obviously don’t as yet know. I gather it went extremely well last time, and if we get the opportunity we would love to do another one.”

NHS chiefs back safety benefits of Boris’s segregated cycle superhighway


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Trauma experts who save dozens of critically injured cyclists each year have launched a fightback in support of Boris Johnson’s plans for a £48 million cycle superhighway.

Businesses have threatened to derail the proposals for the 18-mile route between Barking and Acton, which they fear will cause traffic chaos by removing space from vehicles.

But today the boss of London’s Air Ambulance endorsed the safety benefits of the segregated bike lane- echoing the support from the chief executive of Barts Health, the country’s biggest NHS trust.

It came as London’s Air Ambulance revealed that between January and August its emergency teams – a trauma doctor and paramedic – had treated 45 cyclists seriously injured in road collisions. The service also dealt with 133 pedestrians and 78 motorcyclists out of 1,144 patients helped since the start of the year.

Graham Hodgkin, chief executive of London’s Air Ambulance, said: “Road traffic collisions continue to account for a large proportion of our work and sadly we are treating an average of six pedal cyclists hit by vehicles each month.

“We treat some of the most critically injured people in London and unfortunately one of the sickest patient groups are these cyclists who have been injured by large vehicles.

“Making London’s roads as safe as possible for cyclists and other road users is a daily challenge for the Mayor.  We hope the proposed new measures will help to reduce the number of casualties and will be following these plans with interest.”

Peter Morris, chief executive of Barts Health, which runs the Royal London hospital – one of London’s four major trauma units – said: “Cycling safety needs a much higher profile. I am supporting the proposal to implement segregated cycle super-highways in London, including a route east-west close to Bart’s and to the Royal London and along the Victoria Embankment.

“This could be a major step forward in cycling safety for London, and for our staff, and hopefully further encourage healthier lifestyles and active travel.”

Consultation on the Mayor’s plans closes on October 19. Work to implement the route, which will run on the A40 Westway flyover and the Victoria Embankment, is due to be completed by May 2016.

Lorry’s ‘cyclist sensor’ prevents 15 potentially fatal collisions in six-month trial



Cllr Bassam Mahfouz cycling next to lorry fitted with sensors

Cllr Bassam Mahfouz cycling next to lorry fitted with sensors

A safety sensor fitted to a London council lorry to alert the driver to cyclists and pedestrians has prevented 15 potentially fatal collisions in six months.

Ealing council today announced the results of the first London borough trial of the Cycle Safety Shield device, which a contractor has been using on a 26-tonne vehicle.

It is able to detect only pedestrians, cyclists and motorbikes – meaning the lorry driver does not receive repeated false alerts triggered by railings, signposts and other vehicles.

During the trial, which ran from January to June, the system detected more than 40,000 cyclists, pedestrians and motorbikes but an alarm only alerted the driver on 15 occasions, when they were close enough to be in danger.

The majority of alerts happened when a cyclist was detected on the left-side of the lorry as it turned left or drove straight ahead. The alarm enabled the driver to brake and avoid a collision. The presence of the system also meant the lorry used £500 less fuel due to smoother braking and accelerating.

As a result, the City of London Corporation is to trial the system on its refuse lorries. Transport for London is already testing it on a route 25 and a route 73 bus.

Ealing decided to pilot the scheme after six London cyclists were killed in a fortnight last November.

Bassam Mahfouz, Ealing’s cabinet member for transport, said: “We are committed to reducing lorry danger because we know they are involved in approximately two-thirds of cyclist deaths in London.

“We are in discussions with TfL and if their own independent results support these so far, we are keen to look at further roll out of this system across our fleet.”

Luke Brown, a driver for Murrill Construction, who took part in the TfL-funded trial, said: “The system has been a real benefit. I’ve used another system in the past that beeped at inanimate objects, such as cones, barriers and parked cars, so it was constantly making noise.”

Woman who lost breast after screening blunder wins pay-out from hospital

A woman who was forced to have a breast removed months after routine screening failed to detect cancer has won a substantial pay-out from one of London’s biggest NHS trusts.

Penny Morgan, 64, a school learning assistant from West Drayton, said she felt “vindicated” after Imperial College NHS trust apologised and paid undisclosed “five figure” compensation following the “misreported” mammogram.

She had been given the all clear in March 2010 after tests at West London Breast Screening mobile unit in Hayes but five months later underwent a mastectomy to remove a Grade II 2.3cm carcinoma.

Penny Morgan

Penny Morgan: vindicated after winning apology from hospital

She brought a legal challenge claiming that the initial mammogram had shown a visible mass that should have led to a re-examination. Her lawyers argued this could have prevented the need for the mastectomy and breast reconstruction.

In an agreed settlement, Imperial accepted the screening had found evidence justifying re-examination of Mrs Morgan’s breast.

Mrs Morgan told the Standard: “It should never have happened. I think probably they don’t want to recall people and worry them unnecessarily, but in taking that route they are missing people.

“What I wanted from the beginning was an apology and an explanation. I still don’t know what went wrong. All they have admitted was that there was evidence on the X-ray that meant I should have been recalled.

“I just knew there was something wrong and wasn’t going to be fobbed off. It’s taken four years. It’s been absolutely worth it – I feel vindicated. Hopefully they will have learned something.”

The mother of three, who also has a young grandchild, had noticed a small indentation beneath her breast on holiday several months later “by sheer chance”.

er brother had died of cancer two months earlier so she visited her GP. Subsequent private treatment confirmed that she had cancer and that a mastectomy was her only option.

“I was devastated and confused to be told that not only did I have breast cancer, but that a mastectomy was my only choice at this stage,” she said. “A mastectomy is a brutal operation and one I may never have had to experience had my mammogram been read correctly.”

Her lawyer Trevor Ward, from Linder Myers Solicitors, said: “A mastectomy is a serious and painful operation and could have been avoided had medical staff correctly reported that a visible mass was showing.”

Imperial said in a statement: “We apologise sincerely and unreservedly for the experience Mrs Morgan had with our service.

“Mrs Morgan had a form of breast cancer which is notoriously difficult to diagnose via mammography and unfortunately on this occasion it was not detected.

“We are constantly looking at how we can improve our breast cancer screening services and the safety and care of our patients remains the trust’s top priority.”

Inner-city mountain biking at Olympic velodrome completes world-class cycling legacy


The first-inner city course for mountain bikers has opened beside the Olympic velodrome – with “black run” trails for the most daring riders.

Cyclists are required to sign a consent form in case of injury before attempting the five-mile course, constructed out of the “lunar landscape” at northern end of the Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park.

Bosses hope the course – which has easier “blue” and “red” trails for novice riders – will help British mountain bikers to match the success of track cyclists such as Sir Chris Hoy and Laura Trott and win gold medals.

Rob Mortlock, lead coach at the facility, now renamed the Lee Valley VeloPark, said: “We want to become the best cycling facility in the world. It would be fantastic for this venue to provide the stepping stone for future Olympians in all disciplines, not just the track.”

The opening of the course is the final part of the VeloPark and sits alongside the velodrome, a road cycling circuit and a BMX track. It was designed by one of the UK’s top trail-builders, Dafyyd Davis, who built trails such as Coed Y Brenin in Wales. Prices start at £6 (£2 on Wednesdays during school holidays).

The route takes riders on a loop across the A12. The biggest challenge is “Mount Olympus”, a nerve-shredding 5m drop down stepping stones made from concrete boulders.

Emergency alarms are positioned round the course in case of accidents. Staff have a mountain bike and golf buggy equipped with first aid equipment on standby.

Taster sessions are available to teach basic skills to novices.

“The blue trail is suitable most people who can ride a bike, right up to the more challenging black run,” Mr Mortlock said.

“Most riders come to a mountain bike taster session. If they have not already got some skills, they normally develop the key ones by the end of the session.

“Essentially the message is: don’t attempt anything you don’t think you are capable of doing. If in doubt, don’t try it.”

Team GB failed to win a mountain biking medal during the 2012 Games, when riders competed at Hadleigh farm in Essex.

Mr Mortlock said the trails would benefit riders unable to get to places such as Epping Forest during the week. “The idea is to bring four of the main cycling disciplines together in one place,” he said. “It’s quite unique to have 8km of single-track trails in central London.

“Most people are interested in the velodrome track but the mountain biking seems to be popular. I have noticed a number of people riding after work, which they probably couldn’t do if this wasn’t here.”

Unexplained child deaths fall to lowest figure in almost a decade



The number of unexplained deaths of infants has fallen to almost the lowest figure in a decade, it was revealed today.

A total of 221 children aged under one died in England and Wales in 2012. Of these, 158 were classed as sudden infant death while 63 deaths could not be ascertained, the Office for National Statistics reported.

The total is down on 247 deaths the previous year and continues the annual year-on-year fall seen since 2005, when there were 325 deaths.

London had the second lowest infant mortality rate, after the North West, with 0.25 deaths per 1,000 live births. Most infant deaths occurred between 28 days and one year, with boys twice as likely to die than girls.

Factors known to influence a child’s risk of death include the baby’s head being covered during sleep and the danger of overheating from central heating or extra clothing and blankets. Babies that are not breastfed and those exposed to tobacco smoke are also more at risk. New guidance from the NHS is due to be published in December on the risks attached to parents “co-sleeping” with their baby.

Unusually in 2012, the same proportion of unexplained deaths occurred in the summer and winter. Winter is normally a higher risk but the 2011/12 winter was the warmest for five years.

Death rates in 2012 were three times higher for low birthweight babies, while the risk to babies born to mothers under 20 was almost three times higher than average.

Campaign to save 22 East End surgeries heads to Downing Street

GPs and patients fighting NHS funding cuts that have placed 22 East End surgeries at risk of closure today took their campaign to Downing Street.

A petition with more than 21,000 signatures was being submitted at 1.30pm by Labour MPs Rushanara Ali and Jim Fitzpatrick as they appealed for a reprieve for the health centres in Tower Hamlets, Hackney and Newham.

They are among 98 across the country losing vast sums of protected income under a change to the funding rules. The Jubilee Street Practice, which has 11,000 patients in Stepney, would lose almost £220,000 a year over the next seven years and has warned NHS England that it will have to close next April.

See here for previous posts on the crisis and on Labour shadow health secretary Andy Burnham’s intervention.

Dr Naomi Beer, of Jubilee Street Practice, said: “We’ve already taken pay cuts to try to keep going, but we can’t absorb such a huge loss.

“It breaks my heart to think that our patients, some of them amongst the poorest in the country, are at very real risk of losing their GP practice. We are asking the Government to take action to ensure all practices receive a fair allocation of funds.

A High Court challenge to the “unlawful” change in funding has been launched by a Jubilee Street patient, Danny Currie. The 35-year-old has complex medical needs and has relied on the surgery for 30 years.

Richard Stein, from the human rights team at Leigh Day solicitors, claimed NHS England breached the National Health Service Act 2006 by failing to consult prior to changing the funding formula.

Lawyers believe the removal of the MPIG [minimum price income guarantee] safety net are flawed as they take no account of the level of deprivation, ethnicity and general health status of patients in the East End. Parts of Tower Hamlets have a life expectancy of 54 compared to 72 in Richmond.

Mr Stein said: “This is clearly an attack on inner city health provision and we agree with NHS England that the potential closure of this practice could be the first of many more.

“The Government must do more to address the consequences of its decisions and funds need to be spent to reduce not increase the disparity in the services provided.”

Dr Chaand Nagpaul, chair of the BMA’s GP committee, said: “The BMA has been warning the government for well over a year that its decision to phase out MPIG would leave a number of practices in challenging circumstances at risk from closure.

“All GP practices are under real, sustained pressure from a combination of rising patient demand, declining funding and the government’s desire to move more care into the community. Given this climate, many of the practices that are funded by MPIG can ill-afford to lose this vital funding stream.

“The Tower Hamlets practices have to provide care to some of the most deprived areas in London where the population has significant health needs. This situation is completely unacceptable. The government must act before patient care is damaged.”

A Department of Health spokeswoman said: “The system needs to be fair so GP practices are paid fairly according to the number of patients and the services they deliver.

“The MPIG was introduced in 2004 to support practices moving to a new GP contract. NHS England will be supporting the most affected practices to adjust as these payments are gradually phased out over seven years, and the money will be reinvested in general practice.”

Britain’s fastest man has no plans to run away from life as a London student


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Adam Gemili being interviewed at the Team England media hub in Glasgow by Channel 5’s Simon Vigar20140729-165957-61197761.jpg

Adam Gemili today vowed to continue his university studies despite waking up as the second fastest man in the Commonwealth.

Gemili, 20, a student at the University of East London, won silver last night in the men’s 100m in Glasgow. Today he said it was “like a dream” and he had to pinch himself when he woke up.

He will receive his medal at Hampden Park tonight and will be back in the stadium on Friday and Saturday for the 4x100m sprint heats and final, in which he is likely to run the anchor leg against Usain Bolt as Team England challenge Jamaica for gold.

The former Chelsea trainee footballer left Stamford Bridge after seven seasons to play for Dagenham and Redbridge. But he gave up football completely to concentrate on athletics three years ago.

He has one year remaining on his Sports and Exercise Science with Human Biology at UEL and the Dartford Grammar School pupil insisted he is determined to see it through and graduate next year.

He told me: “The way my university helped me out and work with my coach and the rest of my team, we will get it done. I’ve one more year of university left. One last push and I will graduate with a good degree and I will be happy. “

Gemili spent an hour this morning patiently answering numerous questions from the media about how it felt to win a silver medal and whether he would run directly against Usain Bolt.

Referring to his medal, he added: “I did manage to get a couple of hours’ sleep but i’m still in shock really.

“It’s my first senior medal and it’s done on home soil. I’m still in shock I have got a silver medal.

“As soon as the gun went off I don’t really remember much until right at the end. My mind just went blank and I ytried to get to the line as quickly as I could.

“Hopefully I’m going to have a reasonable career, fingers crossed, if my body lets me.”

He said he was happy to run against Bolt in the anchor leg of the relay. “Whatever leg the relay coach wants me to run, I will run. I’m not bothered as long as I play my part for the team.”

The runner with Blackheath & Bromley Harriers tweeted this morning: “So I’ve woken up this morning and it turns out it wasn’t just a dream. It really did happen. Commonwealth Games Silver medalist!

“My first senior medal and I really am over the moon.”


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