MP Lee Scott has said the decision to abandon a deadline for the closure of the accident and emergency department at King George Hospital is a “step in the right direction”.

Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt has confirmed the department, initially earmarked for closure in December 2015, will remain open for the foreseeable future.

This is due to standards of emergency care at Queen’s Hospital in Romford are not deemed sufficient to enable existing services at King George in Goodmayes to be replaced.

Although, Barking, Havering and Redbridge University Hospitals Trust insist it is pressing ahead with plans to reconfigure services, including eventually closing A&E at King George.

But Mr Scott, MP for Ilford North, vowed to continue to campaign for services to remain.

He said: "I met with the Barking, Havering and Redbridge University Trust chief executive Matthew Hopkins last week and he told me there was no longer a date set for the closure.

"This was not known to anyone so I needed to have this clarified which today's statement hopefully has.

"The campaign to save the A&E department will continue but it is a step in the right direction and will get rid of a lot of rumours about the future of the hospital."

In the statement released today, the Health Secretary said: "The NHS locally has always been clear that changes to the A&E service at King George Hospital will not be made until there are further improvements in the quality of emergency care, and when more work has taken place to reduce the need for hospital attendance and give care closer to home.

"Progress is being made in these areas and the Trust's improvement plan as part of our rigorous special measures process reinforces the focus on developing emergency care for local patients.

"This is a priority for the new leadership team at the Trust. However, there is still work to do and we do not expect the Trust to be ready to make the changes for the foreseeable future."

Community and health campaigner, Helen Zammett, of the Wanstead and Snaresbrook Residents Alliance (WASRA) said she is "relieved reality has set in".

She added: "I'm delighted to hear about the A&E.

"The staff at Kings George have had the axe over their head for the last decade and this is not the first time the closure date has been postponed, but at least now they're starting to come to terms with reality and realise the basis of their plan to make these cuts are fundamentally flawed."

Cllr Andy Walker, who is standing as a Save King George Hospital candidate in Chadwell ward in Thursday’s local election, remains sceptical about today’s announcement.
He said: "Unless the Government withdraws the closure plan, I am still very much standing to save King George Hospital.

"The timing of Jeremy Hunt's statement does raise issues as it is very helpful to his party to say this two days before polling."

Labour's deputy leader for Redbridge Wes Streeting has labelled the timing as "deeply cynical" and "not acceptable".