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A&E review set to end

PUBLISHED: 17:47 23 February 2009 | UPDATED: 10:40 12 August 2010

THE panel responsible for reviewing controversial plans to axe A&E services has just one week left to accept evidence.

THE panel responsible for reviewing controversial plans to axe A&E services has just one week left to accept evidence.

Dr Peter Barrett, of the Independent Reconfiguration Panel (IRP) has promised to take into consideration all evidence when reviewing proposals to cut emergency and maternity services at Queen Mary's Hospital, Sidcup.

Dr Barrett said: "People have accused us of being a PR operation but if you look at our track record, out of 14 reviews we only supported the NHS unconditionally three times."

The plans' feasibility are being reviewed by the IRP at the request of Bexley council.

An IRP panel must consider whether A Picture of Health's (APOH) plans are feasible in terms of transport, buildings, range of services, staffing and population change.

Dr Barrett added: "Clearly with such an emotive change people are very attached to their health services and we understand that perfectly.

"We can't always carry on doing things that we did 30 years ago, but we do have to ensure that the quality of patient care still reaches the best standards."

A consultation called by APOH gave residents no alternative but to chose an option to cut services in Sidcup despite the most popular choice being to make no changes at all. Despite this health chiefs went ahead with its favoured option. APOH's current boss Simon Robbins, the Chief Executive of Bromley PCT, promised that the IRP review would not interfere with the unrolling of plans approved by councillors.

He said: "They include planning for Urgent Care Centres (UCCs) at all hospital sites, developing services closer to where people live."

This month Queen Elizabeth Hospital, Woolwich, opened a pilot UCC, a GP-led unit that will deal with non-emergency wounds and illnesses.

The UCCs will take the strain off A&E units ahead of their numbers being cut.

AN IRP spokesman confirmed that APOH had started passing over evidence backing its proposals.

He added: "The process is still ongoing and we still welcome input from anyone who thinks they have something to contribute."

The IRP expects to submit a report on March 31.

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