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Keep casualty open' pleads patient after water loss shuts unit

PUBLISHED: 15:24 09 September 2009 | UPDATED: 11:11 12 August 2010

A PATIENT says a recent water shortage which resulted in the closure of an A&E unit proves the area cannot cope with the permanent closure of another casualty department. The A&E department at Queen Elizabeth s Hospital (QEH), in Woolwich, was forced to

A PATIENT says a recent water shortage which resulted in the closure of an A&E unit proves the area cannot cope with the permanent closure of another casualty department.

The A&E department at Queen Elizabeth's Hospital (QEH), in Woolwich, was forced to shut for seven hours last Thursday after a water main failure.

The closure came just a week before the A&E unit at Queen Mary's Hospital in Sidcup (QMS) closed "temporarily" yesterday. Bosses at South London Healthcare NHS Trust (SLHT) decided to shut the department more than a year earlier than originally planned, citing a failure to recruit doctors as the reason.

Blue-light emergency cases between 8pm and 8am will now be diverted from QMS to QEH and Princess Royal University Hospital in Farnborough.

The 78-year-old outpatient patient from Eltham, who was at QEH at the time of the closure, said: "It could have been very traumatic.

"We could go to the A&E in Farnborough but that is useless. It would be rather difficult to get there.

"I arrived in the cab and the driver saw the notice and said: 'Would you like me to take you home again?' I would not have known otherwise. It is something that further advocates keeping the A&E at QMS open."

The patient, who does not wish to be named, added: "The toilets were in a state. If I went to the toilet I would have had to use a bed pan. Staff were very apologetic about it.

"The staff at QEH were wonderful. They were all absolutely gorgeous. My husband was at QEH and it couldn't have been better if he went private.

"I have rarely used QMS but it shouldn't be closed."

A spokesperson for SLHT, which is an amalgamation of three former hospital trusts, said: "Normal services have been resumed.

"SLHT would like to say a big thank-you to all staff working across the three sites for their cooperation and patience.

"It was so encouraging to see staff working so calmly and efficiently under difficult circumstances. The high standards of teamwork demonstrated by staff were very reassuring, confirming why one larger trust is much better equipped to cope with any challenges we may face.

"The trust would also like to say thank-you to the people of south-east London who cooperated with the temporary closure of the A&E unit.

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