Hospital Declares 'Internal Emergency' Over A&E

Barnet Hospital Had To Close Doors After 'Capacity Issues' Resulted In An 'Internal Emergency'

18.02.2014

Bosses at Barnet Hospital in Middlesex had to close doors earlier this year over "capacity issues".

This is despite the safety issues involved in taking this choice, which meant patients had to be transferred to other local hospitals which had more doctors on hand to treat them.

A leaked letter seen by the Daily Mail outlined that an "internal emergency" was declared on two occasions so special powers could be made available to chief executives at Barnet and Chase Farm Hospitals NHS Trust.

Similar scenes were seen in December at the nearby Chase Farm Hospital, which is part of the same NHS trust and has reported significant capacity issues in recent months.

A spokesperson for the NHS claimed A&E units saw a higher number of attendances than had been expected.

This meant that non-urgent ambulances were diverted elsewhere, with the North Middlesex University Hospital placed under greater pressure.

Kate Wilkinson, working as part of the Save Chase Farm campaign group, which wishes to see spending cuts at the hospital stopped, said the situation in the region had become "dangerous" in recent weeks.

"There are not sufficient front-line services to deal with demand. It's putting lives at risk. There needs to be some serious and honest discussions with the decision makers, who need to admit there is a lack of services," Ms Wilkinson added.

Nick de Bois, local MP, said the decision to close Chase Farm A&E had begun to backfire and assurances that Barnet Hospital could cope with demand appear to have been proven worthless.

"I have always said the downgrade was the wrong decision, because the demands of the local population would lead to problems at other A&Es," the lawmaker added.

In December 2013, it emerged that a child died after his mother did not realise Chase Farm's A&E service had closed.

Two-year-old Muhammad Hashir Naveed was taken to the closed unit on December 9th.

Expert Opinion
We are deeply concerned to hear about the escalating crisis in Accident & Emergency departments in Barnet.

“The ultimate aim of the NHS should be to ensure that patients get top quality care across every department, as this would not only reduce repeat visits to hospitals but also cut the number of cases which A&Es need to deal with on a daily basis.

“What is most worrying is the fact that health leaders admit the constant pressure on services threatens patient safety. An urgent solution must be agreed to resolve this as quickly as possible.

“In a growing and ageing population more and more people are relying on casualty departments. Action is needed to cope with this demand and ensure staff at all levels have the time and resources needed to provide patients with the safe, quality care they deserve.”
Mandy Luckman, Partner