Enfield Council has announced it will take legal action over today’s decision to close Chase Farm Hospital’s accident and emergency department and maternity wards.

Members of the Enfield, Barnet and Haringey clinical care commissioning groups voted in favour of the changes which will see services shared between Barnet General Hospital and North Middlesex Hospital “as soon as possible” from November 15 this year.

Under the changes A&E services and labour wards will be moved from Chase Farm Hospital, with expanded facilities and staffing at Barnet and North Middlesex.

 New facilities at Chase Farm will include an urgent care centre for non life-threatening conditions and assessment centres for children and older people.

Medical Director Dr Nicholas Losseff spoke in favour of the plans warning they should be implemented before this coming winter.

He said: “ We absolutely believe we have designed a set of fit for purpose 21st century services.

“There are serious concerns about the sustainability of services going into another winter. Our recommendation is this should happen as soon as possible from November this year.”

Dr Ian Mitchell, Medical Director of Barnet and Chase Farm Hospitals NHS Trust, agreed: “What we are doing now is no longer sustainable. It is vital to provide high quality care in the future and to do this we need to make these changes.”

But the plans were fiercely opposed by members of Save Chase Farm Hospital campaign group which has collected a staggering 76,248 signatures from people who do not want to see their local hospital lose its frontline services.

Speaking on behalf of the group Kate Wilkinson said: “The previous Secretary of State’s decision on September 3 2008 was contingent upon the ‘strengthening of services available in a community setting’.

“Better primary care facilities, expanding intermediate care including the creation of four new primary care centres, walk-in centres for disganositc and outpatient services 24/7, expanding GP practice hours all had to be put up an running first to discourage people from overusing A and E departments.

“Why are we in 2013 still lacking these ‘safer, closer, better services’, ‘closer to people’s homes’ as promised many times?”

But Dr Losseff shunned fears it would be better to retain the A&E and maternity services at Chase Farm, saying patients across all boroughs would benefit from a higher quality service under the new model.

He noted that the number of hours consultants would be present on Barnet’s labour wards would increase from 60 to 98 a week before adding: “There is also no decrease in capacity across the system.

“Forty-eight beds will come out of Chase Farm but there will be an increase of 52 across the system. There will be a much slicker process for women giving birth at Barnet and North Middlesex.”

However Ray James, director of health, housing and adult social care at Enfield Council went on to warn that the authority has sought legal advice and would challenge a decision in favour of the changes claiming they are “unlawful.”

Desite this, Haringey and Enfield’s CCGs unanimously voted in favour of making the changes from November 15 while Barnet CCG voted in favour with just one abstention.

The groups also voted in favour of a recommendation to allow the plans to be delayed if any “major or significant” issues arise

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