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A&E to close nights from August

PUBLISHED: 13:08 09 July 2009 | UPDATED: 11:14 12 August 2010

CAMPAIGNERS say improvements need to be made to neighbouring A&Es before an axed department closes throughout nights next month. A shortage of staff has been blamed for the night-time closure of the A&E department at Queen Mary s Hospital, Sidcup (QMS)

CAMPAIGNERS say improvements need to be made to neighbouring A&Es before an axed department closes throughout nights next month.

A shortage of staff has been blamed for the night-time closure of the A&E department at Queen Mary's Hospital, Sidcup (QMS) beginning in August.

A spokesperson for South London Healthcare NHS Trust (SLHT) said there are staff shortages across all of their three hospital A&E units in Sidcup, Woolwich and Bromley, with vacancy rates as high as 42 per cent.

Health campaigner Phil Warn, 63 from Orpington said: "They have to improve the A&Es in Queen Elizabeth's Hospital, Woolwich (QEH) and the Princess Royal University (PRU) in Farnborough before they close it. The PRU is already overloaded.

"They need to improve the number of nurses and doctors and then they can go ahead and close down Sidcup."

SLHT chief executive, Chris Streather, refused to say if A&E departments in Bromley and Woolwich were able to cope with the added pressure.

A statement is expected today with further details about the closure.

Now that Secretary of State for Health Alan Johnson has sealed plans by A Picture of Health to close QMS' A&E, the hospital expects fewer junior doctors will be allocated to the Sidcup site.

A spokesman for SLHT said: "We have been trying to recruit doctors from abroad as well as from other parts of the UK but with limited success.

There is a national shortage of doctors with experience in A&E medicine and few people are keen to join an A&E unit they know will be closing at some point over the next few months.

"We are absolutely confident that the concentration of accident and emergency services on the Woolwich and Bromley sites with Urgent Care Centres on all three sites is the right approach and that it will deliver our number one priority - sustainable patient safety."

marina.soteriou@archant.co.uk

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