This weekend, hundred of visitors to King Street, Hammersmith signed up to a Labour Party petition to save the NHS. Today, we wake up to the news that, as a result of the NHS cuts, Charing Cross hospital may be closed. Details are in today's Independent here.
Charing Cross hospital is run by the Imperial College Healthcare NHS Trust, as is St Mary's hospital in Paddington. To meet its debts of £100m - and in a climate where the NHS as a whole is making cuts of £20bn - the trust is apparently considering selling off St Mary's to property developers and moving its activities to Hammersmith hospital near Wormwood Scrubs. Another option being considered is the closure of Charing Cross hospital, with routine surgery transferred to the West Middlesex hospital and emergency services going to Hammersmith.
Andy Slaughter, Hammersmith's Labour MP, has issued this statement: "I am talking today to Imperial management and unions and seeking a meeting with Andrew Lansley, the Secretary of State for Health. The campaign to save Charing Cross will be the biggest the borough has seen and I’m sure will attract support from across the political spectrum.
"We are fortunate to have three of the best hospitals in the country serving local people. That is something we should be proud to maintain and improve. Labour invested millions in the local NHS. Now the Tories are proposing to close one or even two local hospitals. Cameron’s promise that the NHS would not be cut is exposed as the most blatant piece of trickery."
Not a squeak has so far been heard from Greg Hands, the Tory MP for Chelsea & Fulham, who back in 2005, dishonestly scaremongered that the then-Labour government intended to sell off Charing Cross hospital. He said then, "That would be a crazy move, and it is one that I have been elected in part to prevent.... I look forward to winning the battle with the Government to leave Charing Cross services on their current site."
He also said, "It is vitally important for patients in Hammersmith & Fulham that the Charing Cross Hospital remains on its current site, with all of its current services. Any transfer of services to Hammersmith Hospital would be a disaster for local people, as it is extremely inaccessible by road and public transport."
Will Mr Hands be prepared to join hands with Labour to win the battle today, or will we finally get clear proof that his earlier statements were no more than cheap politicking?