STRUCTURE: The accident and emergency departments at Hammersmith Hospital and Central Middlesex Hospital are due to be downgraded on the same day in September under a joint plan between Imperial College Healthcare Trust and North West London Hospitals Trust.
The trusts plan to downgrade on 10 September.
In Imperial College Healthcare Trust’s board papers it states that the two emergency departments should close on the same day “to avoid the potential impact of one closing and those patients being diverted to the remaining one as it prepares to close.”
However, it was noted that a joint closure could have an “impact on the preferred timing” because Imperial College Healthcare Trust would prefer to close its A&E at the beginning of August “due to issues with medical staffing” whereas North West London cannot close until mid-September because building works at the department will not be completed until then.
Health secretary Jeremy Hunt announced in October last year that the emergency departments at Hammersmith Hospital and Central Middlesex Hospital would be downgraded to urgent care centres, following a recommendation from the independent reconfiguration panel that this should be done “as soon as practicable”.
Hammersmith Hospital currently has an urgent care centre that is open 12 hours a day and Central Middlesex has a 24 hour urgent care centre next to the A&E.
Imperial College Healthcare Trust said it was not expecting any job losses from the downgrade because staff will be required to cover the increased demand at St Mary’s Hospital’s A&E.
The trust has estimated that the A&E at St Mary’s will receive an extra 25 ambulances and up to 15 patients referred through Hammersmith’s urgent care centre a day.
The impact on Charing Cross Hospital is “unlikely to be significant”, according to the trust.
There are plans to develop Hammersmith Hospital as a specialist centre. It already hosts one of London’s eight heart attack centres on site.
Central Middlesex Hospital will become a local hospital with elective procedures and a 24 hour urgent care centre.
North West London Hospitals Trust has estimated that the downgrade at Central Middlesex will lead to a £3.5m loss of income. Local commissioners have agreed to increase transition funding from £10.8m to £14.8m to allow for this loss.