Local Hospitals

Queen's Hospital in Romford is closed

King Georges Hospital, a bit closer to my station is closed.

Whipps Cross hospital remains open for more of the day, but then closes.

Newham, Homerton and the Royal London are now the only hospitals in East London accepting patients.


Queen's and King Georges being closed in the east means that ambulances local to them are bringing patients to Newham.

Crews local to Newham (i.e. me) are being told to take patients to either the Homerton or to the Royal London.

I don't know what crews local to the Homerton or Royal London are being to to do.


I pick up a patient a stone's throw from Newham hospital, he has chest pain that could be cardiac in nature. I have a bit of job persuading him to come to hospital, but he finally agrees that the only definitive test is some blood tests.

As directed I contact Control to see where I should take him. They tell me to go to the Royal London hospital.

I tell the patient – he gets off the trolley and walks out of the ambulance, he doesn't want to go to that hospital and I had a hard enough time getting him to agree to go to the local hospital.

I complete my paperwork and then fill out a clinical incident form. If he drops dead it'll be me in front o the coroner, not my bosses.


I spoke to one of the crews that is local to Queens hospital, they tell me that the A&E department is full of patients from last night. They are still waiting to go up to the wards to get the treatment that they need.

But there aren't enough beds.

Queen's hospital was only built in the last two years – you'd assume that it would have been designed and funded to meet the needs of the local people.

I can understand why the A&E closes, it's a clinical risk to be so overcrowded.


But it's also a clinical risk to be driving patients across London, it's a clinical risk to have patients decide that they want to stay at work rather than be driven miles to a strange hospital.

It's a clinical risk that I can't take a patient who has multiple problems that the local hospital knows all about to that hospital (although in that case I successfully argue my case with Control, at least I think I do, they don't reply after I tell them why I'm going to the local hospital instead of one unfamiliar with my patient).

I'd say that it's a clinical risk that ambulances are tied up with longer than normal transports – this means it takes us longer to go clear at hospital to get to our next patient. And it's normal for us to be holding calls for ambulances to come clear – how many more calls were we holding today?


Once more, a lack of capacity means that those of us on the bottom of the pile get the most crap – and in this case it's not the ambulance service, it's the patients.

The answer is simple, but it costs money. Money 'better' spent on keeping bankers in jobs and fighting wars that don't concern us.

But of course, I'm just a stretcher monkey, what do I know?

6 thoughts on “Closed”

  1. Our local hospital in Mid-Herts is closing – including the A&E. Then all incidents will need to be transported 15 miles – at least – to a hospital that will the be serving all the northern part of the county. How can one hospital expect to cope with such a large catchment area?Let's hope we don't have another Hatfield rail crash. Patients being transferred so far is unthinkable.

  2. Won't it be fun if TPTB get their way and close A&E at King Georges permanently?And all around Ilford they are building high rise buildings to increase the population even more. Madness.

  3. We used to have these types of closings in my area in the US. The system got abused. A little over a year ago, the practice was outlawed. The hospitals predicted carnage.So far, they are coping. They've had to rethink a few things, but after lots of wailing, it's working.

    I don't know how to help you, but there is a solution.

  4. It was the same 25 years ago i.e. before the “new” King George” was built @ Goodmayes. Then the A&E dept would close to blue lights a couple of times a month – at least. However it couldnot close until “cover” had been organised with other hospitals around London. Whenever I was the on call Admin asked to close A&E in these circumstances I might have to arrange for Male Medical at one hospital, Male Surgical elsewhere, Female Medical at another and if I was really unlucky Female Surgical elsewhere also – The furthest out I ever had to resort was St Mary's at Paddington – the other side of London.So I would sometimes delay and play for time by assuming a bed (or three) might become available overnight – through patient deaths – but always at the back of my mind was what “closing” A&E meant for the patients and (in many ways more importantly) their families who would need to visit them once they were treated and stabilised.

    A couple of years later I was seconded to the DofH and working with the then NHS Management Board and Regional Managers wanted to use this situation as a scenario with which to challenge work that was being undertaken into the key values that underpinned the NHS (then!).

    I was amazed when the senior managers, civil servants and clinicians did not accept let alone recognise that this state of affairs could exist at all at the time. It was laughed out of consideration. It saddens me of course that you describe this nonsense still going on a quarter of a century later – even after the small King George was replaced by a larger hospital that was meant to stop this sort of thing happening.

    Of course closures of units elsewhere and nonsensical adherance to ersatz markets and offering “choice” to people who only want good local services has exacerbated the problems you describe around East London and Essex.

    I wish the same national leaders who laughed at my description then could answer for their neglect now.

  5. All I can say is I am so glad I moved out of Newham, living in Sheffield at the moment, NGH moved around 30patients to RHH so that the A&E at NGH could stay open but at least it did stay open.I really feel for you guys

  6. The DOH have stated that an A&E dept cannot close because of a lack of resource, it can only close if there are no DRs. As one coroner said when a hospital tried to hide behind that ' A lack of recource is no defence in law as the country would close down' A hospital must treat and transfer. Re counties closing A&E dept thats also a DOH report in 1990 that there should be only one A&E dept per million of the population of that county! So the senior managers of the LAS should go and kick arse at these A&E depts, like i used to when hospitals tried it in our county

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