Close our Queen Mary’s Hospital over my dead body’

PUBLISHED: 13:25 06 February 2008 | UPDATED: 11:31 01 July 2010

THREE hundred residents turned up to confront a government health tsar on the downgrading of Queen Mary s Hos-pital, writes Marina Soteriou.

THREE hundred residents turned up to confront a government health tsar on the downgrading of Queen Mary's Hos-pital, writes Marina Soteriou.

A panel of medical staff, assembled by A Picture of Health, faced an angry public at the Delivery of NHS Services Scrutiny Sub-Group meeting, last Thursday at Bexley Civic Offices.

There were laughs and cries of 'rubbish' from the public when A Picture of Health showed their short film, which claimed the proposals were not all about saving money.

Roger Smith, Medical Director at Queen Mary's Hospital, said: "Expectations have increased dramatically.

"In the 1960s we thought that level of care was good if a nurse patted your hand while you died."

He was heckled with shouts of 'get off the stage', 'we are the public, don't patronise us' and 'he's no good' 'he is paid by us the tax payers', and 'let him talk sense then'.

Resident David Scott, 68 from Thamesmead said: "They didn't change my mind. I have an aortic aneurysm and if it bursts, think I have got 20 minutes before I am dead.

"The paramedics may have to break my door down which adds on more time. I don't know where this half an hour comes into it. It's more like an hour to get to the nearest accident and emergency."

Health tsar Sir George Alberti said: "You close Queen Mary's Hospital over my dead body.

"I am not paid for being here this evening. I am not a member of any political party. I don't live in any of the four boroughs. I am in this from the point of view of quality and healthcare. Before we do more at the hospital site, then more has to be done in the community. Lets get community services right."

He said he would not let any 'money-grabbing Primary Care Trusts' skimp back on providing what has been promised.

He added: "We serve a population, not a bunch of bricks and mortar, let's re-design it otherwise services are going to get worse and worse.

"Having to go 15 miles on public transport is horrible. Acute cases do better when we get you to see an expert. You will go off in an ambulance for that. You will then get back to Queen Mary's Hospital as soon as that acute episode is over."

But Mr Smith added: "People with life-threatening problems will travel to Queen Elizabeth Hospital, Woolwich or Princess Royal Hospital, Bromley - a few miles more.

"I honestly believe that the people of Bexley will get better healthcare. I do not turn up for fun to be abused by the people of Bexley."

The residents were denied asking Alberti direct questions as he left at 9pm.

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