A NHS Trust’s medical director has defended a decision to end the treatment of seriously injured children at King George Hospital.
Severely ill young patients have been transported to Queen’s Hospital in Romford, rather than King George Hospital in Goodmayes, since November 2010.
The Accident and Emergency department at King George is due to close in December 2015.
Independent Cllr Andy Walker who represents Redbridge ward of Chadwell, had raised concerns about the policy, saying that travelling an extra five more miles could be putting children at risk.
In a letter from NHS Barking, Havering and Redbridge University Trust’s medical director Stephen Burgess to Cllr Walker, shown to the Guardian, the policy was defended as giving children the best care possible.
The letter stated: “A thorough review of children’s services on both hospital sites was carried out in 2010, led by expert doctors and nurses involved in paediatric care. In line with national best practice, it was then agreed that, to ensure that seriously ill children received the best possible clinical outcomes, high dependency paediatric care would be centralised on the Queen’s site.
“This meant that we would have high levels of emergency paediatric consultants available at all times, rather than diluting cover across sites.
“London Ambulance Service and the Trust agreed that all children in blue light emergency ambulances – an average of just one a day across the area covered by the Trust - would therefore be taken to Queen’s.
"Our commissioners were supportive of the move, and it was also shared with members of the Joint Health Overview and Scrutiny Committee. All proper processes were followed.
“The situation was closely monitored for a year to ensure that it was improving care for children. This arrangement continues to work well three and a half years later.
“Any suggestion that this decision is politically-led, rather than clinically, would be utterly incorrect. You have raised a concern that this move was made as a way of closing King George A&E, but that is simply not the case. It pre-dated the Secretary of State’s decision to close the A&E, and the two are in no way related.”
A Care Quality Commission report last year found A&E patients were being put at risk at both hospitals, which are run by BHRUT, due to poor care standards.
Dr Louise Irvine, chairwoman of the Save Lewisham Hospital campaign, warned that the hospital may be forced to close if the A&E department was shut down.