A&E closure plans approved

Posted: 11th October 2013

Hospital CorridorThe High Court has rejected as unarguable a local authority's challenge to the proposed closure of a local accident and emergency department. The London Borough of Ealing had sought permission to mount a full judicial review challenge to plans to terminate emergency services at Ealing Hospital as part of a reorganisation of health care services across West and North London.

NHS England had resolved to concentrate acute services for two million residents at five ‘super hospitals’. Such services were currently provided at nine hospitals on five hospital sites, including Ealing, which would become a ‘local’ hospital following the reorganisation. The programme - called ‘Shaping a Healthier Future’ - had been approved by a joint committee (JCPCT) representing the interests of eight primary care trusts.

Ealing argued that the reorganisation would result in ‘a radical downgrading of critical services’ in its area and noted that emergency admissions in Ealing and Hounslow were higher than the national average. It was submitted that the JCPCT had proceeded with ‘a closed mind’ and failed properly to take into account the health needs of local residents. The JCPCT was also accused of not complying with its statutory duty to ensure that users of the services were fully involved in the decision-making process and failing to fulfil its public sector equality duties.

However, in refusing permission, the Court ruled that none of the grounds put forward were arguable. NHS England had not closed its mind to alternative courses that would not have involved the department’s closure and the needs of local people had been ‘specifically considered and addressed’.