A lack of leadership and inadequate staff were to blame for children being turned away from King George hospital's accident and emergeny department, it has been revealed.

In response to a Freedom of Information (FoI) request by campaigner Andy Walker, Barking, Havering and Redbridge University Hospital's Trust (BHRUT), which runs King George's hospital in Goodmayes, outlined seven key points as to why it took a decision to turn children away from A&E in 2010.

It cited:

  • A lack of clinical leadership within children's services
  • Compliance with the Children's National Service Framework, a department of health programme for the health of children, being patchy
  • Paediatricians being overworked and also being required to work in the neo-natal unit
  • A highly-complex and poorly managed staff rota
  • Inadequate medical staff assigned to the medical rotas
  • Gaps in the staff rota
  • Assessment by a senior doctor was not always possible
  • In an email shown to the Wansyead and Woodford Guardian by Andy Walker, BHRUT also claimed the decision was undertaken based on the lack of appropriate paediatric facilities at the King George hospital site.

This response contradicted the answer given in early May by Trust director Stephen Burgess, when he said the decision not to take children to the A&E was made for purely clinical reasons.

Andy Walker said: "This is unbelievable because the FOI response is a different reason to the one the trust gave back in May.

"It is disgraceful, there is no real reason to not take children to King George here, it seems like it is purely down to staff shortages and failures.

"With the population of children increasing so rapidly we need as much A&E services as possible.

"BHRUT does not have a consistent position which is very worrying."

BHRUT also listed numerous other shortcomings in staff numbers and leadership for children's services in the trust which is in special measures. 

Campaigners uncovered the policy to turn children away from the A&E in April.

The BHRUT document Strategy for Change - Children's Services, dated July 2010, highlighted a number of concerns and shortfalls in the paediatric service in the hospital.