The pressure on health and social care services for patients in Central London is unrelenting. Local residents in Westminster have already seen:
- The closure of the Pembridge Hospice which provides services to those at the end of their lives. Initially, this was because they were unable to recruit appropriate consultant cover but now the closure is looking like it will be made permanent
- The reduction of activities for older people in hubs in Church street, and South Westminster due to withdrawal of funding from Central London CCG
- NHS owned Care homes that the Care Quality Commission regards as inadequate or requiring improvement include Garside House Nursing Home which has been found to be inadequate and the Butterworth Centre and St George’s Nursing centre that require improvement.
- The end of meals on wheels as we knew it (as a hot meal delivered to the home of a person in need). Now, people eligible for meals on wheels, can order a cold meal (often at higher prices) and heat it themselves. Residents were left in uncertainty for months about what the new system would be after very poor communication by Westminster Council
After these attacks on services used by older people, people with disabilities and those who are terminally ill, services that are used mainly by younger people are also being cut. Sexual health services including contraception services that were being delivered out of Woodfield road will now be cut. Westminster Council say that the service was under utilised and not offering value for money. This, maybe true -they say only 11 Westminster residents used the service each week but, in that case, why was CNWL allowed to run the service so poorly for 3 years that it was hardly used?
Activity in GUM clinics has increased by 44% and in a survey with residents Westminster Council found that residents in need struggled to get appointments for sexual health and contraception services. At a time when booking a GP appointment is harder than ever, capacity in sexual health services needs to be increasing and services run properly so they are used by the residents who need them. Instead the model has been to run services badly, and then closing them down when they are underused.
The Walk in Centre in Soho is used by 50,000 people per year but the government has issued guidelines that it no longer thinks walk in centres are a good idea, which means that the service will have to change -but how? Westminster Labour supports the proposal by the Soho society that the service should be changed into an urgent care centre. We also support the Soho society proposals that existing services are continued -including GP practices, specialist dental services and other community services and that the unused parts of the building are converted to offices to bring an income to the NHS. This is a much better plan than closing it down, and hoping that the existing activity can be absorbed by already overstretched GP practices. This would be another cut to services that makes no practical or financial sense. See Cllr Pancho Lewis’s Open Letter and sign up to support it here.
The Connaught Square GP practice faces closure after over 100 years following the Church Commissioners’ planning application to turn the premises at 41 Connaught Square into luxury flats. The practice provides primary health care to over 8,000 residents and its loss will be a hammer blow to the community around Marble Arch and the Edgware Road.
Cllr Nafsika Butler-Thalassis, Deputy Labour Group Leader, said “The Conservative Government has continually failed to invest what is needed to provide the health and social care that Westminster needs. They need to think again about these latest cuts to services that will put greater pressure on already overloaded GPs.”