Packed Town Hall lambasts NHS plans for Ealing Hospital

300 Lambast NHS at Public ‘Save our Hospitals’ Debate

300 people packed Victoria Hall at Ealing Town Hall last night (26 September 2012) and vented their fury at NHS plans to decimate healthcare services at Ealing Hospital and throughout the north  west London region. 

Residents, Councillors, NHS staff, trades unionists and MPs were massively critical about the contents of the plans and the inadequacy of the public consultation. It appears that the risk assessment and the equality impact assessment are both flawed and incomplete. 

Emerging from the fog of rhetoric from NHS bosses it is now crystal clear that the NHS wants to re-purpose Ealing Hospital as (what we all view as) just a clinic. No more babies would ever be born at Ealing Hospital – truly ironic now as Ealing Hospital Maternity Unit is the best performing one in the whole region. The sick, wounded and dying will be turned away from its doors for treatment. Nine of the 11 major types of healthcare services will be axed at the hospital. 

Money versus Lives

A massive consensus emerged quickly amongst the audience that whatever the NHS bosses said to the contrary, the proposed cuts were about cutting £1 billion from the region’s NHS healthcare costs by 2015. 5,600 people will lose their jobs and there will be fewer hospital beds available.To dress up what might well be good intentioned aspirations as ‘proposals to improve your local NHS services’ was viewed with much cynicism by the meeting attendees. 

Ealing Hospital is Southall Hospital

Ealing Hospital is in so many ways Southall Hospital. Southall residents and Ealing Hospital staff over and over again voiced their horror at the planned destruction of their hospital. Southall has the highest rates of diabetes, tuberculosis and coronary disease in Ealing. Of all hospitals in the region, Ealing Hospital is the one most used by its immediately local residents. A Cardiologist at Ealing and Hammersmith Hospitals claimed that the serious healthcare problems in Southall had existed for 20 years but had never been addressed. He said that he and many, many of his medical consultant colleagues believed that the plans are unworkable. A lady spoke who had worked at Ealing Hospital Accident and Emergency for 25 years. She was concerned about Southall’s hidden population ie illegal immigrants. If Ealing Hospital effectively or actually closes down just how and where will the thousands of hidden (‘beds in sheds?’) population receive treatment she asked. 

A Southall Councillor claimed that 10,000s of Southall residents without internet access and/or English language skills were being excluded from this public consultation. He asked for many more translations of the 80 pages proposals and the 15 page response form. Southall Library was supplied with just 50 copies of the consultation and response form documents. This was clearly totally inadequate for the 70,000 who live in  Southall. He requested a three month extension to the consultation period. An NHS boss declined his request. 

‘Out of Hospital’ Strategy Flawed

Three of the  eight (yes eight) proposed ‘care settings’ is what many might call community healthcare. This is called ‘out of hospital’ by the NHS and comprises (in NHS jargon) GP practices, a care network (whatever that might be) and health centres. Many residents and NHS staff voiced very real concerns about why there were no details at all about how and where this community ‘out of hospital’ care would take place and the resourcing and facilities needed to provide this care..

A resident had viewed an NHS NW London risk assessment document incompetently left on a desk after a meeting. To her horror she read: 

‘Out of hospital strategy – CODE RED

What are we going to do about it?  – a blank space was the response ’ 


The NHS said that their research states that average journey time from patient pick up to delivery to a hospital in London(or Ealing perhaps?) by ambulance with blue lights flashing was 11.4 minutes. The maximum journey time was 30 minutes. These figures were met by howls of derision. No figures were provided as to the average waiting time for an ambulances in Ealing or the projected waiting times for an ambulance should Ealing A&E close down. A Hanwell Councillor made the point that many of us drive our sick loved ones to Ealing Hospital, and with no flashing blue light travel times to Ealing, Hillingdon, Northwick Park or West Middlesex Hospitals would be much longer. He asked NHS bosses what percentage of Ealing Hospital A&E admissions were delivered by car/taxi? No answer was forthcoming. A lady weighed in with the fact that you need to use three different bus services to get from Southall to Northwick Park Hospital. 

Many made the point that healthcare travellers are not just patients but family and friends. Research showed that regular attendance by loved ones at hospital bedsides speeds up the process of recovery from illness and injury. 

Untested Strategy

A resident of Harrow pointed out that the proposed radical restructuring of healthcare provisioning in our region has not been attempted anywhere else in England. The NHS has admitted that there is no evidence at all that this strategy could or will work. 

The Silence of Ealing GPs

No-one in the audience had any evidence that Ealing GPs supported the proposed changes. This is ironic as in April 2013 Ealing GPs (in the nascent NHS Ealing Clinical Commissioning Group – ECCG) will take over from the NHS Ealing PCT and run Ealing NHS healthcare. A GP actually questioned why Ealing GPs had not been asked their opinions on the proposals by the ECCG. As the ECCG Chair was absent no answer was forthcoming. 

NHS – Are You Listening?

40,000 people have signed petitions opposing the cuts.

On 15 September 2012, 1,000s marched through Ealing Town centre and even more rallied on Ealing Common to show and voice their opposition.

All the region’s MPs, Councillors, Councils, Trades Unions and many, many residents’ and community groups have voiced their opposition to the proposed cuts. 

Notable Absentees

Billed to appear as a speaker was Dr Mohini Parmar, Chair Ealing Clinical Commissioning Group (ECCG). This NHS GP Commissioning Group will replace NHS Ealing PCT and run NHS healthcare in Ealing in just seven month’s time. But, she was nowhere to be seen. 

The local MP Angie Bray was also absent. A speaker from the floor suggested that if Ms Bray was truly serious about resisting the proposed cuts (which the speaker fervently believed emanated from the Tory lead Government’s plans to save £20 billion annual NHS costs) she should resign if the cuts went ahead. 

Given that the meeting was one the largest (perhaps the largest) public debates on the restructuring of healthcare for a generation, across 100 square miles and applicable to two million people in London, London Mayor Boris Johnson should have attended the meeting. Many asked why Mr Johnson is so quiet on this life and death issue of healthcare in the capital. 

Ealing Council Independent Review of NHS Plans

Ealing Council has commissioned a former NHS Chief Executive Tim Rideout to carry out an urgent, independent review of the NHS NW London plans. Ealing Council announced last night that Mr Rideout’s view is that the plans are not robust and are therefore unsafe and open to challenge. A draft of the review exists now but the final version will be placed in the public domain by 5 October 2012. 

Has the NHS Got It Right?

Numbers and percentages were thrown around like confetti both by NHS bosses and by those opposing the changes. Clearly the numbers (beds, nurses, clinicians, costs, admissions, travel times etc) are very important. But the overwhelmingly the  feeling I had as I left the meeting was that we were all being asked to take part in a huge, unprecedented, human experiment – and none of were confident that it was all worth the risk. 

Eric Leach

Hanwell resident

A celebration of OPEN Ealing’s achievements and people – Saturday 29th September

This Saturday OPEN Ealing opens its doors to all to bid farewell to its current home. There will be free activities and events for all the family:

12-4pm : ‘Fantastic Worlds’ drawing workshop for all the family with artist Timothy B Layden and an animated film made during OPEN school holiday workshops.

2-4pm : Learn magic with Mr Cosmo and  open rehearsals of six 10-minute plays to be performed in the evening

7-11pm : A selection of live music from local classical and jazz musicians; films and documentaries; performance of the six 10-minute plays.

Join us in celebrating everything that OPEN has achieved over the past 18 months. An afternoon and evening of children and family activities and performances and a cocktail or two. A truly memorable day over five glorious floors.

For full details visit OPEN Ealing’s website


No more expansion at Heathrow

Are you disturbed by the noise from Heathrow aircraft? Are you tired of squeezing onto the Piccadilly line? Are you worried about the levels of pollution in the air?

If you are, then join the fight to stop Heathrow expanding or it’s going to get a whole lot worse.

BAA, owners of Heathrow, have been lobbying hard for expansion, most recently arguing that our troubled economy can only be brought back to life by building a third runway. This is as nonsensical as it sounds. Heathrow already has better connections to key business centres than any other European airport. 127 million passengers travelled through London’s airports in 2010, more than any other city in the world. To expand Heathrow as a hub (ie a place where people change planes) may boost the profits of BAA but the economy needs people who see London as a destination.

If you are one of the 720,000 people already disturbed by noise from Heathrow or concerned about the effect the airport has on our local environment or wider climate change, then now is the time to make your voice heard.

What you can do

• complain to BAA each time you are disturbed by aircraft noise by phoning 0800 344 844 or emailing Complaints are a key indicator the government watches.
• write to your MP to express your concerns and to your local councillors to urge them to become more active in the Heathrow debate.
• respond to the government’s consultations. The Department for Transport’s current consultation covers aviation noise and environmental policy.
• join the Ealing Aircraft Noise Action Group. For £10 (£5 concessions) we will keep you up-to-date with developments and use the funds to campaign on behalf of Ealing residents. Our website, outlines some of the key issues, links to relevant documents (including the government consultations) and gives more information about what you can do.

We need to let our politicians know our strength of feeling and that their re-election depends on them saying NO to BAA.

Ealing Aircraft Noise Action Group

West Ealing Family Day – music, food, kids’activities, craft market and more – Saturday from 10am

The weather forecast is good and there’ll be music, food and activities for kids’, so make the most of the good weather and enjoy the late summer at West Ealing Family Day on Saturday.

Some of the activities and events for Family Day:

Kids’ activities include – Punch and Judy (11.30am) at the farmers’ market in Leeland Road; drumming workshops, magic shows and kids’ cookery school at St James Church; making ceramics at OPEN Ealing’s stall in St James Ave; ‘make your own…’ stall in Canberra Road. Also football in Dean Gardens from 1-3pm and fun and activities in St John’s Church from 10.30am.

Music,dance and hot food in Melbourne Ave – music starts at 11am

Craft market in St James Avenue

Community information and craft stalls in Canberra Road

WEN Abundance selling locally made jams, chutneys and more in front of St James Church

Watch out for more including a St John’s Ambulance stand and if you like climbing stairs then you can get a spectacular view across west London from the top of the tower at St John’s Church in Mattock Lane – tours from 10.30am – 3.30pm.

More information on times of kids’ activities on our website

Developer announced for Sherwood Close Estate in West Ealing

Ealing Council’s cabinet meeting last night (Tuesday) approved Affinity Sutton as the preferred developer for West Ealing’s Sherwood Close (Dean Gardens) Estate.

For a bit of background to this development here is an extract from a news item on our website from March 2010:

‘As with the Green Man Lane Estate, residents have identified anti-social behaviour, drug dealing, too many one-bedroom homes and too few four bedroom homes as major concerns.  Work is already underway with residents to put together a brief for developers.  Built in the early 1980s on one half of the Northfield allotment site, Sherwood Close has 209 homes and, unlike the Green Man Lane Estate, was not system built.  Nevertheless, the decison has been made to demolish it and rebuild it – almost certainly with a greater number of homes.’

With 57,000 homes, Affinity Sutton is one of the country’s largest providers of social housing. It published its first ever corporate responsibility review in 2011/12  

West Ealing Neighbours welcomes Affinity Sutton to West Ealing and we welcome the prospect of high quality new homes for the residents of the Sherwood Close Estate. We look forward to seeing its detailed plans. This is a major development in the heart of West Ealing and we very much hope Affinity Sutton will see this as an opportunity to invest not just in the new estate and its residents but also play its full part  in the wider West Ealing community at a crucial time in its regeneration.





Lots of free children’s activities at West Ealing Family Day on Saturday 22nd September

We’ve put together our best yet activities and entertainment for children at this year’s Family Day. So far confirmed:

Farmers’ Market in Leeland Road – Punch and Judy show from 11.30 – 12.30 plus fruit and vegetable printing and chalk street art

St James Avenue – OPEN Ealing stall for making ceramics – 10am – 4pm

St James Church – drumming workshops, magic shows and cookery lessons. Schedule so far:

11am Drumming workshop (40 mins)

11.45am Magic Show (40 mins)

12.30pm Drumming workshop (40 mins)

1.15pm Magic workshop (40 mins)

3pm Drumming performance (20 mins)

St James Church Garden 10.30am – 3pm Kids’ Cookery School – a chance for kids to make their own healthy meals.

Check our website for final details





More than1,000 march through Ealing to save local hospital

Saturday 15 September 2012 may well prove to be a red letter day as far as cuts to local NHS healthcare services. I, with my wife and eldest son joined some 1,000 people who marched from Southall to Ealing Common along the Uxbridge Road. There we were joined by some 400 people who had marched from Acton to Ealing Common. The 1,400 or so people who attended the rally on the Common enjoyed speeches for all three Ealing MPs, Hammersmith’s Labour MP Andy Slaughter, Ealing’s Council Leader and senior Trade Unionists. As ever the most rousing and passionate speech came from Steve Pound Ealing North’s Labour MP. Not surprisingly Ealing Central and Acton’s Conservative MP Angie Bray got a mixed reaction from the crowd.

This is the largest protest march and rally I have ever seen in Ealing – and I have lived here more or less continuously for over 40 years.

Many of the marchers waived placards, blew noisy horns and one of them was banging a very loud drum. Young and old, rich and poor, Tories, Labour supporters, LibDems, Councillors, MPs, socialists, NHS staff, teachers’ unions, and many Southall residents took part. Southall is the most deprived part of the borough and has the highest prevalence of diabetes, tuberculosis and coronary heart disease in Ealing.

Ealing Conservatives were very active in distributing copies of the 80 page NHS NW London consultation document along with a simple guide on how to ‘legally’ express your view to retain Ealing Hospital’s Accident and Emergency Department.

Eric Leach

Where has all the fruit gone?

WEN Abundance is having a lean year for the first time since its inception 5 years ago with very little fruit on offer so far. We are by no means the only group suffering from a lack of Abundance, groups across London and the rest of the country are scaling down activities.  A mixture of a bumper year last year and mixed weather earlier on this year has resulted in fewer yields to date. 

Luckily for us we made lots of produce last year – including delicious new chutney recipes. All of which will be on sale at West Ealing Family Day on Saturday 22nd September.  Come along to our stall outside St James Church, St James Avenue from 10am – 4pm (providing stocks last!).

If anyone knows of any suitable fruit going spare, particularly apples for our fruit press to use at West Ealing Family Day please contact