Mayor Boris lauds Times' health expose
PUBLISHED: 18:08 01 April 2009 | UPDATED: 11:30 12 August 2010
THE Mayor of London has congratulated the Times on its grit and determination for rubbishing claims that 100 clinicians supported the proposed health cuts. Boris Johnson applauded our investigation published on March 19, which proved there was no evid
THE Mayor of London has congratulated the Times on its "grit and determination" for rubbishing claims that 100 clinicians supported the proposed health cuts.
Boris Johnson applauded our investigation published on March 19, which proved there was no evidence to support the claims made by committee A Picture of Health (APoH).
Publicly funded APoH claimed that "more than 100 local clinicians" agreed with their plans to slash services at Queen Mary's Hospital, Sidcup (QMS) at a 'workshop' in 2007.
But when asked under the Freedom of Information Act to handover the clinicians' names they refused claiming it would breach their confidentiality.
A year on, and only when they were referred to the Information Commissioner's Office, they finally admitted a record of attendees was not even made.
Mr Johnson said: "I applaud the grit and determination shown by the Kentish Times in its campaign to keep Queen Mary's Hospital, Sidcup (QMS) open.
"It is vital that all of the facts are made available for everyone to see and understand, particularly on an issue as important to local people as this."
This revelation throws fresh doubt that the proposals, which included stripping (QMS) of its A&E, maternity unit and its in-patient paediatrics unit, were clinically not financially driven.
The proposals have sparked fears that many emergencies will be transferred to hospitals further away in Bromley, Lewisham and Dartford.
London Assembly member for Bexley and Bromley, James Cleverly, praised the Times in his blog.
He wrote: "I had always felt that money was the big driver for the cuts but the A Picture of Health committee insisted that clinical needs were the driving force and that over 100 local clinicians supported the plans. Who could argue with over 100 local medical experts? No one, surely!
"Well the Times has done the kind of local campaigning journalism that is rare these days and found out that there was in fact no list of 100 clinicians! The cornerstone of these proposals turns out to be a sham.
"Huge well done to the Times and the A Picture of Health committee had better get ready for huge row."
The Independent Reconfiguration Panel (IRP), which is investigating the decision to cut services, was due to report to the Health Minister on Tuesday.
They are expected to make their recommendations public in approximately a month.
Bexley Health councillor Sharon Massey said: "The Times should be congratulated, on behalf of all Bexley's residents, for proving there is no list of 100 clinicians supporting the proposals to downgrade QMS.
"The newspaper's relentless pursuit of the truth has exposed a massive hole in the supposed evidence that the changes to our local hospitals are clinically supported. We have passed the information to the IRP.
A spokesperson for the IRP said: "We are aware of the article and have considered it."