• Matt Hancock halts two A&E downgrades
  • Charing Cross Hospital and Ealing Hospital in London had been due to see bluelight services moved elsewhere
  • Decision marks end of Shaping a Healthier Future programme

The health and social care secretary this afternoon ruled out the downgrades of two accident and emergency units, proposed as part of a contentious reconfiguration.

In response to a question from Chelsea and Fulham Conservative MP Greg Hands, Matt Hancock said a downgrade to the A&E unit of Charing Cross Hospital, west London, was no longer supported by the Department of Health and Social Care, NHS Improvement or NHS England.

Matt Hancock told the Commons: “As for the changes in A&E in west London, these will not happen”.

The proposal was part of the Shaping a Healthier Future programme, launched in 2012.

A statement from the North West London Collaboration of Clinical Commissioning Groups said the announcement “means we will not be taking forward the plans as set out in SaHF for changes to Ealing and Charing Cross Hospitals”.

The statement said SaHF had many achievements, “includ[ing] 24/7 urgent care centres in every borough of north west London, improvements in maternity care and emergency paediatric care, and a range of initiatives to help people get the specialist care they need closer to home”.

The plans led to a number of A&Es being successfully downgraded, including those at Central Middlesex Hospital and Hammersmith Hospital.

Commissioners in north west London have seen the necessary capital funding bids rejected by NHS Improvement, over a lack of detail on how care was going to be reprovided.

The North West London Sustainability and Transformation Partnership, which oversaw the programme, was also forced to row back on its original plan to reduce the bed base across the eight north west London boroughs by 500.

A spokesman for Imperial College Healthcare Trust, which runs Charing Cross Hospital, said: “The announcement provides welcome clarity.

“The Shaping a Healthier Future programme has delivered significant benefits for patients and communities in north west London. Much has been achieved over the past seven years and the programme’s ambitious vision for improving health and integrating care has remained relevant while there have been some big changes in the wider health and care system and in the needs of our local population.

“However, this is the right time to look again at how we move on to respond to the challenges and opportunities as we face them today in order to achieve the most with, and for, our patients and local communities.”