A REPORT on the future of Chase Farm Hospital has been referred to an independent panel of experts for further examination.

Health Secretary Andrew Lansley has handed documents produced by Enfield Council on hospital services in north London to the Independent Reconfiguration Panel.

The panel will look over almost 500 pages of documents that set out views around reconfiguring hospital services at Chase Farm, North Middlesex and Barnet hospitals and contain ten recommendations from the council.

These include a demand that Chase Farm is not downgraded and a request for funding for health services in north London to be re-evaluated.

Mr Lansley wrote to the council’s health scrutiny committee informing them of the referral, but the minister is expected to make a final decision himself after receiving advice from the panel in July.

Councillor Doug Taylor, leader of the council, said: “At the end of the day the future of Enfield’s hospitals is in the hands of the Secretary of State. He will make the final decision.

“Referring the matter to the IRP cannot be allowed to confuse the decision making. Andrew Lansley needs to be clear that he is accountable for this decision.”

He added people who contributed to the latest review would be “alarmed” if they thought their views had been discounted in any way.

The latest twist in the long-running hospital saga will feel familiar to many, given that the last Labour government referred the decision to an IRP in 2007 after the plans came up against public opposition.

The panel delivered a series of recommendations to be enacted before Chase Farm was downgraded and the proposals gradually stalled as public and political pressure grew.

Mr Lansley stopped the reconfiguration upon taking office in May last year and earlier this year he gave the council six weeks to produce fresh ideas for the future of hospital services.

The Department of Health confirmed Mr Lansley made a decision to refer the case to the IRP on Wednesday, May 11, and added: “The Secretary of State has asked the Independent Reconfiguration Panel for advice on Enfield Council’s Health Scrutiny Panel’s original referral and the council’s alternative proposals for the reconfiguration of services at Chase Farm, Barnet and North Middlesex hospitals

Source: Enfield Hospital

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