Last Friday I went back to Barking Hospital to see the Walk in Centre which has just reopened in the new Hospital. It was wonderful to finally see nurses seeing patients in their new brand new surroundings. And it was good to talk to people who had come in for their blood tests.
Before it was relocated to the Barking Hospital site, 30,000 people had been seen by the Walk in Centre since April last year – that just goes to show the demand for health services in the local area.
What a difference it was from the last time I was there just before Christmas! Then I was joined by campaigners, including the Friends of Barking Hospital, standing in the freezing cold demanding that the Hospital be opened.
Getting the Walk in Centre in place is an important milestone in what has turned out to be a year-long campaign. But it’s taken NHS managers nearly a year to approve it. And we’re still fighting for the GP surgery and the maternity wards!
As more people move into the area, demand for more urgent care and maternity services will increase. That’s why we need more health services based in places people can get to easily. And that’s why we need to keep the services we’ve got at King George Hospital.
Everyone who was at my coffee afternoon later that afternoon understood this, including two ladies, in particular. One who was born in the old Barking Hospital in 1945 and the other due to have a baby in May. If only those people who run the NHS would meet local residents and talk to them face to face. Maybe then they would begin to understand!
We already have one of the highest birth rates in the country with more babies being born here than anywhere else in Britain. Barking Hospital alone is expected to manage 670 births every year in the next 3 to 5 years. Yet more top-down reorganisation will be a complete waste of money and will mean less money for the doctors and nurses that we desperately need.
Before Christmas the Government announced the closure of A&E and maternity at King George. This decision is simply wrong. But we did get a commitment that King George won’t close until Queens is given the “all clear” by the Inspectors. That could be another 5 years. I don’t think Queens will ever cope. We can still get the Government to see sense and halt this ridiculous proposed closure which is all being driven by money not need. Our fight goes on.