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King George Hospital’s plan to fully reopen children’s A&E is “later than anticipated” but “welcome”, Redbridge Council’s leader has said.
On November 4 last year, Barking, Havering and Redbridge University Hospitals NHS Trust (BHRUT), which runs the Ilford hospital, announced it would temporarily stop treating children overnight.
Children who needed emergency treatment between 9pm and 9am have since been expected to travel to Queen’s Hospital in Romford instead.
The trust originally told Redbridge Council it hoped to fully reopen the service by April but announced today that it will instead remain closed until June 7.
Redbridge Council leader Jas Athwal said: “I was deeply concerned when paediatric accident and emergency services were moved out of Redbridge.
“The extra travel time to access urgent children’s emergency services and the additional burden on parents has been a particular worry.
“The firm date for returning paediatric emergency services to King George Hospital on Monday, June 7, is obviously welcome, although this date is later than anticipated.
“I have received assurances from NHS management that more doctors have been recruited to restart services in June safely.
“It is a widely accepted fact that too many residents in our borough suffer from poor health inequalities, and I will continue to campaign for the fullest possible range of high-quality hospital services for local people at King George Hospital.”
At a health scrutiny committee meeting the day after the announcement in November, Redbridge councillors criticised the trust forcefully for the “knee-jerk” decision to close.
Committee chairman Cllr Neil Zammett (Lab, Goodmayes) told the trust there was a “definite lack of confidence” at the council over its “commitment to providing” services in Redbridge.
He said: “The knee jerk reaction from the trust is, whenever things get difficult for doctors, our services get closed.
“We need to make sure we are not closing our services in Redbridge when other places are managing to keep them open.
“The pressure is on to retreat to (Queen’s Hospital in Romford) but I think it’s clear to everyone that Queen’s could not manage the acute sector and all those services on its own.”
In a statement released on Wednesday, a BHRUT spokesperson said the decision to close last year was taken because it “didn’t have enough staff” but had spent the last four months “successfully recruiting”.