Chase Farm Hospital closures confirmed

A council is to mount a legal challenge over the closure of maternity and A&E units that David Cameron once vowed to save.

Enfield Council said it would seek a judicial review after the local NHS Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG) decided this morning to press ahead with plans to close the services at Chase Farm hospital in north London.

The move means Chase Farm will concentrate on non-emergency care, with patients relying on nearby North Middlesex and Barnet hospitals for A&E and maternity.

In opposition, Mr Cameron promised a "bare-knuckle fight" over the closure of local hospital services, promising to protect Chase Farm from an "unjustified" top-down reorganisation.

Former health secretary Andrew Lansley also delayed plans to close the units following a public outcry.

Enfield Council's leader Doug Taylor said:

"For many years the people of Enfield have been assured that improvements to primary care would be in place before the closure of the A&E and maternity services at Chase Farm Hospital.

"The CCG's decision today to go ahead without these promises being fulfilled is a grave breach of our residents' legitimate expectations."

He said no decision should have been taken to close the services without prior compliance with preconditions set down by the Government as far back as 2008.

He added:

"These conditions required that a number of new sites were to be developed to provide improved primary care services to the people of Enfield before the A&E and maternity departments could be closed,"

"There are also a number of other conditions relating to the provision of services by GPs which should have been fulfilled before closure. Very few of these conditions have in fact been met.

"Because of the importance of these facilities to Enfield, the council have taken legal advice and have been told that this closure decision without compliance with the preconditions and discharge of the assurances given by two different secretaries of state is unlawful and could be challenged by way of judicial review.

"We will now be preparing that challenge on behalf of the residents of Enfield.

"The council does not believe that residents are convinced by the arguments to close Chase Farm's vital A&E and maternity departments without the appropriate primary care services being in place and expect their elected representatives - MPs, councillors and community leaders - to protect local health services."

Mr Taylor said he has written to Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt "urging him to halt proceedings until our concerns are addressed".

The controversy over Chase Farm has more than spanned five years.  The decision to close the services was made by members of the Barnet, Enfield and Haringey clinical commissioning groups.

Maternity and inpatient paediatric services will close on November 20 and the A&E department will shut on December 9.  Chase Farm will still operate an urgent care centre for minor injuries, burns or illness but this will not remain open overnight.