Jeremy Hunt has accepted the recommendations to give a green light to a major reconfiguration of accident and emergency services in north west London.
The health secretary told Parliament he agreed with a report by the Independent Reconfiguration Panel, but he added the caveat that “A&Es would remain at Ealing and Charing Cross hospitals but possibly in a different shape and size”.
The plans, drawn up by commissioners in north west London, would result in the downgrade of three type-1 accident and emergency units across the patch, at Ealing, Central Middlesex and Charing Cross hospitals.
Mr Hunt approved the plans for Central Middlesex, as well as plans to downgrade the emergency unit at Hammersmith Hospital, which already does not take blue light emergencies. However, he said there would be further consultation about changes to Ealing and Charing Cross.
NHS England chief executive Sir David Nicholson has previously described the plan as one of the most significant reconfigurations in the NHS.
The medical directors of the hospital trusts in north west London wrote to Mr Hunt, alongside their counterparts in clinical commissioning groups, to say they supported the proposals.
The plans were referred to the Independent Reconfiguration Panel, an arm’s-length body from the Department of Health, and the panel delivered its report to Mr Hunt in September.
Earlier this month a judge rejected Ealing Council’s request that the Shaping a Healthier Future programme, the name given to the project by the north west London commissioners, be subject to a judicial review.
This follows an earlier challenge by the local authority.
A spokesman for the Shaping a Healthier Future programme said: “This is now the start of a five year implementation programme – nothing will be rushed.
“We will now work closely with local residents, hospitals, GPs, local authorities, carers and patients to identify the best range of services in the local hospitals at Ealing and Charing Cross which will best serve the needs of that community.”
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