There’s an A&E crisis in North West London

Dr Helen SainsburyOver the last four to five weeks I’ve visited the Central Middlesex Hospital and Northwick Park hospital, in Harrow, several times. I haven’t visited Ealing because although that is part of the same trust, it is a step too far.

I haven’t been ill myself – I’ve been Nurse Mike, unlikely though that seems. I’ve had some problems with soft furnishings – but that’s a very different story.

I know Northwick Park hospital only too well. After I had my “heart event” I spent weeks in there – got to know the nurses pretty well, so well, in fact that they were prepared to issue me a nurses outfit so I could go to the social club where the lasses and lads drink.

My, how things have changed. The North West London hospital “trust” has decided to amalgamate every single accident and emergency case at Northwick Park, although the infrastructure to support such a move doesn’t seem to exist.

Let me explain. I was working at a magazine I started called The Register at the time, and on my way back to work after a rather shortened sabbatical, I realised that I was having what people call “a heart attack”. After letting two or three Metropolitan lines go, I took myself down to West Harrow tube station and said hey guys, can you call an ambulance?  That might not happen in the future. West Harrow doesn’t seem to have any staff any more. It is all automated.

Within minutes, the ambulance tipped up and delivered me to Northwick Park A&E, where the lovely quacks and quackettes confirmed my self diagnosis.

I won’t dilate on this, but the fact I was at West Harrow tube station, a mere 10 minutes from Northwick Park saved my life.

So, picture this.

You live in Ealing, Harlesden and points east, south, west and north of the area and you are diagnosed with a stroke or a heart event. The ambulance tips up in, say, Ealing, and by the time you get to Mega A&E Northwick Park, your heart/brain has stopped. Well, then, you are dead, and Soylent Green material.

So yesterday, we tipped up at Northwick Party and there was “road rage” because gazillions of people and probably relatives were tipping up at the brand spanking new A&E department at Northwick Park which has, let’s face it, rather a narrow entrance because it was built in the swinging sixties or whenever.

Except it isn’t a brand spanking new A&E department. It looks just like it did when I had my heart attack in 2001 when I worked for The Rogister and stayed there for weeks upon weeks until Harefield Hospital rescued me.

Surely, given a general election in a few weeks time, mainstream politicians should be thinking hard about this? In between times, in the last four to five weeks, I have discovered such disaffection amongst senior to junior NHS staff that I fear for others. Like all of us. The doctors seem confuzzled, the nurses seem confused, the poor bloody infantry haven’t a clue either.  So, politicos, what are answers to this North West London Hospital Trust conundrum? 

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