Saturday, May 13, 2017

It’s Pantomime week in #IlfordNorth
– Sparks fly over KGH A&E Future

The pantomime season has arrived in Ilford North. “Oh no it isn’t, oh yes it is” has been the theme dominating this week’s local “debate” between Labour and Conservative campaigners on the future of King George A&E.

It kicked off with a Conservative leaflet saying “King George: A&E to remain open” but underneath the headline it was less clear saying that the plans to close it in 2019 “are likely to be shelved”. This was quickly picked up by the Labour camp, pointing out that the Conservative candidate had agreed to attend a Save KGH A&E rally later this year in October and that elected local Conservatives had attended a Rally at the Town Hall as recently as March of this year. All very confusing.

There followed a spate of tweets from Conservative activists accusing the Labour candidate of “scaremongering” and “damaging recruitment and patient care” while the Ilford Recorder decided to do a fact check which found that BHRUT are still planning to close KGH A&E in 2019, a decision that was made in 2011 by a Conservative government while we in Ilford North had a Conservative MP.

The key here is language, and understanding exactly what someone is saying. According to the Conservative leaflet “[The] A&E closure plans announced for 2019 are likely to be shelved.” Read that again. It is saying the closure plans are likely to be shelved, which means they have not yet been shelved. And how likely is likely? And what exactly does "shelved" mean? Cancelled, reversed or just delayed?

Later in the week the Health Secretary, Jeremy Hunt, came to visit Ilford North at a private function in Woodfrod Bridge. The Labour candidate and some Labour campaigners turned up to ask if the decision to close KGH A&E had been reversed. Seems perfectly reasonable under the circumstances to me, but it descended into a Punch and Judy show with Conservative activists screaming “where’s Corbyn?”

Mr Hunt is reported to have said that he cannot see KGH A&E closing “in the foreseeable future” but he did not say that the decision to close the unit had been reversed. If it had I’m quite sure he and his party activists would be shouting it from the Ilford North rooftops. And how long is the “foreseeable future”? As long as a piece of string?

So to conclude, KGH A&E remains open for an unspecified period of time (but pretty damn sure until after this election) but is still currently planned to close in 2019 although some doubt has been cast as to whether the closure can be achieved on time, and may be delayed.

We cannot afford to rest on this. Unless and until the decision is reversed the Save KGH A&E campaign goes on, whether the local Tories like it or not. We, the voters and residents of Ilford North, will not accept ambiguity. 


  1. It is all very sad and a tad childish. I now who I believe. Having sat though the debate in Westminster Hall last year when Mike Gapes, Wes Streeting and Margaret Hodge spoke up for KGH for nearly an hour, and heard the junior health minister dismiss in under four minutes their well-argued reasons for keeping KGH A & E open, I know who I believe!

  2. Despite all the marches and speeches, I hope that there is one thing everyone is agreed on and that the sole responsibility on recommending the closure of the A&E at KGH lies with the Clinical Commissioning Group or CCG.
    It is their recommendation to the Sec of State and whilst he/she may consider it and decide against; please don't forget the CCG is made up of both Lay & Medical personnel. The CCG is supposed to consider ALL the evidence; however we know that our own CCG stubbornly refuses to accept the many 100's of signatures, arguments made by the people who use the service!
    Now the Sec of State could accept OUR arguments and keep the A&E open, but given the local CCG have said it does not make clinical sense, then its THEIR minds we have to change. I once asked the CCG what would happen if KGH A&E closed and Queens was full, where would people go? Answer:- Southend or Basildon.
    How do you change their minds? Perhaps if they were faced with extra journey time for them or their loved one in the back of ambulance -they might re-consider but nagging any Sec of State alone won't change things. Vanessa

  3. Jeremy Hunt is not the worst Health Minister we've ever had. That accolade must go to the short-lived Andrew Lansley - who, incidentally, introduced the wrecking balls called CCG's. However the one thing I CAN commend him for, J.H. that is, is that his name is a wonderful, but obscene, new addition to the Cockney Rhyming Slang dictionary

  4. All these adversarial exchanges about King George's A&E between Wes Streeting and Lee Scott don't even touch our hospital problems. We are seeing an explosion of building of homes both in Ilford North and surrounding Chigwell and Woodford areas. Blocks of flats are going up all over the place and in Luxborough Lane, I understand that a town has been built. It's great to provide more homes but where will all those new residents go for treatment? Yes, our A&E MUST remain open but we also need more surgeries and either a new hospital or additional buildings with facilities and beds attached to King George. This means more staff particularly medical which means more funding. If only we weren't paying a huge mortgage on Queens! While these two are fighting over who is right, they are missing the real issue.

  5. But immaterial when Labour win the General election. Jeremy Corbyn has promised to immediatel stop all Tory plans to close hospitals and hospital departments