Havering Liberal Democrats welcome the decision to review the closure of King George’s A&E Department. Whilst we strongly believe that it should remain open, we caution that it is too early to celebrate given the Conservative Government’s spending plans on the NHS. Phillip Hammond’s Autumn budget outlined plans for the Conservative’s to continue to under-fund the NHS, this means that there is still an uphill battle for the future of King George’s A&E.
In response to the budget, Jo Swinson, Lib Dem MP & Deputy Leader of the Lib Dems, pointed out that “Simon Stevens (NHS England Chief Executive) had asked for £4 billion next year, but the Chancellor’s response does not come close. The new revenue peaks at £1.9 billion next year and then drops to £1.1 billion. As I say, Liberal Democrat Members appreciate that hard choices need to be made, and if we want to resource our NHS and social care properly we need to look at how to find the funds. That is why we have proposed an increase in income tax of one penny in the pound specifically for the NHS and social care. It is worth noting that social care was something the Chancellor did not even think worth mentioning in his remarks”.
The development planned for Havering over the coming years in the borough’s local plan needs to be underpinned by the adequate provision of health services and retaining King George’s A&E is essential to do that. Even in the short term, the closure would cause a surge in the demand for A&E services at Queens Hospital. As local people that are passionate about our local area, we know that local residents of Havering will suffer if King George’s A&E closes”.