Gareth Thomas MP spoke in Wednesday's (05.06.13) debate on Accident and Emergency waiting times. To read the full debate, click here.
Are the closures and restricted opening hours of many walk-in centres not having an impact on the increasing A and E crisis? Alexandra Avenue polyclinic, which serves my constituents, now restricts its opening hours to weekends.
I entirely agree, and I shall say more about that issue shortly.
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Mr Gareth Thomas (Harrow West) (Lab/Co-op):
I am grateful for the opportunity to follow the hon. Member for Bracknell (Dr Lee). Given the views he articulated, I hope he will come and canvass for my opponent at the next general election; we would be very happy to have him there. I say that in the context of the situation in the North West London Hospitals NHS Trust, which in 2010-11 was well within the waiting times targets for A and E. Just 2.9% of patients waited more than four hours, but by 2011-12, that figure had risen to some 10.8% at the end of the year, while for the whole of the last financial year the figure is 12.2%—the second worst set of statistics in London, surpassed only by the Barking, Havering and Redbridge University Hospitals NHS Trust, where almost 16% of patients had to wait over four hours.
I am grateful to my hon. Friend and neighbour for giving way. In view of what he has just said, does he think that the best possible prescription is that currently recommended by the Government whereby the existing A and E departments at Ealing, Park Royal, Hammersmith and Charing Cross all close? Does he think that will improve waiting times in A and E departments?
Mr Thomas: My hon. Friend, as ever, is ahead of me. He makes the perfectly reasonable point that if the Northwick Park and Central Middlesex A and E departments are not achieving the 95% target now, how can our constituents have any more confidence about reaching that target should the Central Middlesex and Ealing hospitals close?