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News archive - September/October 2011

‘Hard decisions’ taken on north London hospitals

PROPOSALS for clinical changes at Barnet and Chase Farm hospitals have been approved by the Government, bringing to an end years of controversy about their future.

Chase Farm will remain open but have its A&E downgraded to an urgent care centre and will lose its maternity unit, while A&E and maternity services will be centralised at Barnet and North Middlesex hospitals.

The existing proposals for change were agreed under the previous administration in November 2008, and Health Secretary Andrew Lansley has accepted an assessment carried out by the Independent Reconfiguration Panel (IRP). He said: “We are not making cuts to local services. In fact, tens of millions of pounds have been spent on local hospitals to support these changes. We must be prepared to take a hard decision in the interests of putting patients, safety and local services first.

Mr Lansley added that the IRP’s report does not prevent the local NHS and GPs via the Clinical Commissioning Group from determining how they want to commission urgent and emergency care services for their local community in future.

Professor Chris Ham, chief executive of The King’s Fund is among many NHS experts who support the need for change. “With some hospitals struggling to provide safe services and growing evidence that many specialist services are best located in fewer facilities that can provide world class care around the clock, this is the first of many difficult decisions that will need to be taken about the provision of hospital services in different parts of the country.”

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