Monday, July 20, 2015

Wanstead Hospital – It’s not over Yet

Last month Helen Zammett reported that as of 13 May the Redbridge Health Scrutiny Committee voted to ask for details of the proposed intermediate care plan, giving a deadline of 12 June. If this information was not available by then, the Committee would continue with the referral of the proposed closure of Wanstead Hospital Galleon and Heronwood wards to the Secretary of State for Health.

On 29th June and 12 months since the plan was announced, the Redbridge Clinical Commissioning Group had failed to provide any of the crucial evidence, particularly where the new intermediate care service would be provided and no detail of an outline layout/design.

Attached is a summary of the evidence asked for and the inadequate response received which is in the Health Scrutiny Committee papers 6 July. The Wanstead Hospital issue is buried in item 11, the Work Programme on pages 86 - 100.

However, in spite of this, the Director of Adult Social Services, Health and Wellbeing had decided that the referral will not go ahead.

Enter veteran health campaigner Andy Walker at Full Council last Thursday 16th July with a question which was accepted:
“Will you write to the Department of Health asking them to stop the closure of Wanstead hospital and the subsequent loss of three acute wards at King George Hospital, these two events combined being part of the plan to close King George A&E, as it breaches the guarantee given by the 2011 government that “no changes will take place until the Care Quality Commission, which published its own report on local services today, has assured the Secretary of State that the services provided by Queen’s Hospital and other local health services are of a high standard.”
Andy Walker said “Cllr Athwal, the Leader of Redbridge Council deserves to be congratulated for overriding the Council Health Scrutiny Committee which meet earlier this month and decided not to object to the proposed closure of Wanstead Hospital.”

Readers could write to their MP encouraging them to follow Cllr Athwal's example and write to Mr Hunt.

It is important to remember that patients in Wanstead Hospital come from a wide area, from Chigwell to Romford - most patients are not from Wanstead. This is an issue that affects everyone in the borough.


  1. Patients not buildings

    Dr Anil Mehta, Chair, Redbridge Clinical Commissioning Group writes:
    A series of recent articles regarding the NHS rehabilitation units in Wanstead have focussed on the views of campaigners who object to local GPs’ proposals to improve care for our patients. Part of our plan is indeed to move all our rehabilitation beds to King George Hospital in Ilford.

    The reason this makes sense, and will benefit all our patients, is that we have fantastic new community services working hard to prevent people needing to go to hospital at all and thus needing to spend time in ‘rehab’.

    These community treatment services have been so successful that 50% of the beds in these old units are not being used and aren’t needed. That’s a waste of valuable NHS resources for local people and makes no sense at all. We want to make sure that our resources are spent on things that are actually needed and used. We continue to work closely with the council’s scrutiny committee to provide councillors and residents with the necessary assurance about our plans.

    The new services have so far cared for more than 20,000 patients – ten times the number who would have been cared for in these community beds alone. That’s a huge difference and we want to keep it up.

    The local NHS cannot run the new services while keeping the empty beds sitting in the old units. We will have enough beds at King George Hospital and every patient who needs one will still get one.

    People don’t like change - we understand that - but when the arguments for improving health care for local people are so clear and make such a difference to tens of thousands of our patients, GPs will push ahead to make those changes happen. We believe that people - our patients: you and your families – are more important than buildings.

  2. Some information for readers - Wanstead Hospital 1862-1986
    Built in 1862, the old building of Wanstead Hospital, in Makepeace Road, was originally home to the Merchant Seamen's Orphan Asylum, which moved to Wanstead after leaving its former home in Bow. Prince Albert laid the foundation stone as the building's construction began in 1861 and the orphanage had a capacity for 300 children of merchant seamen who had been orphaned.

    After the charity moved to its current home in Berkshire in 1921, the building became a nun’s convent called the Convent of the Good Shepherd. It was bought by Essex county council in 1937 and converted into Essex County Hospital with 202 beds, and in 1948 became part of the NHS.

    At this time there were maternity and accident and emergency units in the hospital. The number of beds was reduced to 195 in 1961, the A&E service closed down in 1971 and the maternity unit was withdrawn in 1975.

    The Grade-II listed hospital was then closed in 1986.

    The old chapel is now being used as by the Sukkat Shalom Reform Synagogue after being converted in 1995. The hospital itself was converted into luxury apartments.