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Doctors keeping Bromley children's hospital services 'secret'

Queen Mary's Hospital, Sidcup

Queen Mary's Hospital, Sidcup

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»A health boss has been accused of "keeping children's hospital services secret" after he claimed demand was making them unaffordable.

The row broke out after Bexley chairman of NHS South East London, Dr Howard Stoate, criticised South London Healthcare Trust for publishing leaflets about the children’s walk-in unit at Queen Mary’s Hospital in Sidcup.

NHS South East London decides what hospital services to commission and Dr Stoate said that since the leaflets were distributed, demand had increased.

In a Westminster debate, last Wednesday, he said: “What’s happening is that it is driving up demand and cost to the point where it is becoming unaffordable.

“This is a really good service, but it is expensive and if used inappropriately it could be unaffordable.”

He said the hospital should have asked commissioners before promoting the service, which the hospital is not required to do.

The unit is the main treatment centre for children from Bromley, Bexley and Greenwich boroughs and replaces Queen Mary’s paediatric department which closed last year.

But John Lister, from London Health Emergency, which campaigns against hospital closures, said: “It seems the commissioners want to keep this service secret which is a rough deal for the children.”

Secretary of Bromley’s Community Care Protection Group, Sue Sulis, added: “This is a rationing of services that should be objected to. If there is a need for this service then people should know about it.”

A trust spokesman said: “The children’s unit is a service which was fully consulted on publicly and supported by an independent clinical review. The trust has a duty to make sure that its services are known to patients.”

Defending his comments, Dr Stoate said: “Commissioners are faced with increasing pressure to use money to best effect and need to be mindful about how to advise about services.”

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