Securing the highest quality healthcare services for my constituents has always been one of my top priorities. So I have been lobbying hard for the right result to come out of the feasibility study which is now being conducted on the future of Barnet, Chase Farm and North Middlesex Hospitals.
Andrew Lansley asked NHS London to carry out the study when he announced his decision that the Barnet, Enfield and Haringey Clinical Strategy (BEH) should go ahead. The BEH proposals to split services between our local hospital trust’s two sites, with maternity and emergency care at Barnet and elective operations at Chase Farm, continue to be controversial; but now the decision has been made (and backed by local GPs) we need make sure it is implemented in a way which improves patient care for my constituents.
The feasibility study is considering stronger links between Chase Farm and North Middlesex Hospital and is due to report to Andrew Lansley by 16th December 2011. It is essential that the interests of Barnet residents are fully considered in any recommendations made in the study. I have put this point strongly to NHS London and to Simon Burns in a meeting he held with me and Mike Freer MP last Thursday at the Department of Health.
It is also crucial that Barnet Hospital is given the support and funding it needs to expand capacity to cope with the extra patients it will receive when the BEH Strategy is implemented. The feasibility study must not jeopardise that. Barnet Hospital has put together an application to NHS London for a multimillion pound improvement programme. This will be formally submitted within weeks and NHS London is expected to consider it at a meeting in January.
Merging Chase Farm into North Middlesex and breaking the link between Barnet and Chase Farm could leave Barnet Hospital financially vulnerable and unable to achieve Foundation Status. Nor would a three way merger between Barnet, Chase Farm and North Middlesex be right for Barnet residents, who will not want to travel to Edmonton to access vital health services. I know that some people would like to see Barnet linked with the Royal Free rather than Chase Farm. That may be an option to consider in the future, but the Royal Free have said that this is not viable for them at present.
I am therefore urging NHS London to back the status quo in their feasibility study and maintain the existing link between Barnet and Chase Farm Hospital. I believe that a local restructuring of senior hospital management would be an expensive distraction right now (estimates indicate it could cost £1 million) when the NHS already has big challenges to cope with in Barnet, not least of which is implementing the NHS reform programme being rolled out across England. I know that many local GPs and hospital staff share my view.