Government blamed for hospital failings

East London and West Essex Guardian Series: Ongoing concerns over patient safety at hospitals Ongoing concerns over patient safety at hospitals

Serious failings at a hospital trust have been caused by the former health secretary's decision to cut services, a group of Labour councillors and an MP have claimed.

A damning report published earlier this month by the Care Quality Commission found patients’ safety was being put at risk due to a failure by bosses at Barking, Havering and Redbridge University Hospital NHS Trust to tackle longstanding issues.

Inspectors found unsafe care in A&E departments at both King George Hospital in Goodmayes and Queens Hospital in Romford due to a lack of full-time consultants, long waiting times and unnecessary pressure being put on some departments.

But in an open letter signed by Labour councillors Jas Athwal, and Wes Streeting, and MP Mike Gapes, they say the decision by former Health Secretary, Andrew Lansley, to cut services at King George did not take into account population growth, which is now putting pressure on staff and services.

They said: “We believe the real reason [for the failings] is the catchment population of the hospitals which at between 700,000 to 800,000 is two to three times that of neighbouring trusts.

“Pressures have been increased by bed closures at the trust and they now face the critical months of January and February with an acknowledged gap between bed availability and demand.”

Maternity services at King George have already closed while A&E services have been earmarked for closure.

The Guardian has approached the Department of Health for comment.

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