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Tulip Siddiq: Axed Royal Free children’s A&E saved my baby’s life

Secretary of state Matt Hancock agrees to meet her to 'discuss the specifics'

21 September, 2020 — By Tom Foot

House of Commons closure must be ‘strictly temporary’

THE health secretary has agreed to meet Tulip Siddiq to discuss the imminent closure of the Royal Free children’s accident and emergency department at the Royal Free.

Matt Hancock was responding to a question from the Hampstead and Kilburn Labour MP in the House of Commons today (Monday).

Health chiefs have ordered what they describe as a temporary closure of the emergency department at the Hampstead hospital, and at University College Hospital in Euston, with all child patients being sent to the Whittington in Highgate instead.

Ms Siddiq said: “Last year, I was faced with every parents’ nightmare. I rushed my small baby to A&E in my constituency because he wasn’t breathing. The doctors and nurses saved his life.

“The same children’s A&E will be closed temporarily next month, because of the pressure Covid 19 will put on the NHS over winter.

“I want the secretary of state to give me a cast iron guarantee that the local NHS will be given all the resources it needs, so that this closure is strictly temporary and this A&E service can be restored as soon as possible.”

North London Partners, an NHS funding authority that is imposing the changes on Camden hospitals’ paediatric A&Es, has stressed the changes are temporary until at least the end of March.

The shake-up is being couched as its strategic response to the Covid-19 crisis.

But there are suspicions among senior NHS insiders that the axed departments will not be reopened and the two significant resources will be lost permanently as funding cuts bite next year.

MP Keir Starmer is due to meet NLP chiefs next week and has raised concerns that decisions have been made without public scrutiny.

Mr Hancock visited the Royal Free in December while canvassing for the Conservative candidate for the Hampstead and Kilburn constituency.

He made claims about increases to the number of nurses in the hospital that were later discredited by the hospital.

Today, Mr Hancock said: “Of course I’m very happy to work with my honourable lady on this question. We do have to make sure our hospitals are Covid secure, and I’d be very happy to meet her and discuss the specifics at the Royal Free.”

The secretary of state was speaking in the House of Commons debate about the current testing fiasco and “stronger restrictions” to stop a “worrying rise in infections”.

He said the Government’s aim was to “protect employment and education while bearing down on the virus”.

 

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