Saturday, 25 September 2010

Homerton crack baby theory and A&E threat

In a discussion thread from Mumsnet in Feb 2010 one of the commentators said "the bad reputation Homerton" is out of date and "it's been really improved in recent years."

She said: "Also my own doctor had her baby there and was very positive. The other thing about Homerton is that it has one of the best neo-natal units around because of all the crack babies etc... (Sorry I couldn't find a nice Guardian-y way of putting that without wanting to throw up. blush ) Plus they have posh consultants like Dr Katrina Erskine who is famous and that, and also works in posh-people private hospitals."

Blood and Property hasn't tried to find out if this claim is correct but judging by this Wikipedia entry and this New York Times story about an epidemic that never happened - it probably isn't.

Although "Cocaine slows fetal growth, and exposed infants tend to be born smaller than unexposed ones, with smaller heads. But as these children grow, brain and body size catch up" so may be the actual births are more dangerous.

But it's a possibility that cash spent on specialising services (In 2002 Homerton staff were shipped off to Soweto for 'battle surgery' training) to the particular needs of a community might not be relevant for very long.

A&E to close?

That's according to this Hackney Communist site: "Cuts of up to 187 million over next three years in Hackney NHS; Homerton Hospital might shut down the Accident and Emergency, Stroke and Maternity Departments, replaced by smaller GP units, polyclinics."

I asked around but no one seemed to know much about this. Doesn't mean it's wrong.

This site outlines possible major cuts in a secret report leaked to the BBC earlier this year

If you've got time, this is an interesting article:


  1. Re: closure of the Homerton Emergency Department - it may be on the horizon in the next 5 years or so. The North-East quadrant of London has lots of Emergency Departments covering it (Newham, Royal London, Whittington and Whipps Cross are all close by just to mention a few).

    NHS London is definitely looking to swing the axe, especially given the pressure from the Condems, and also because their plan to close the Whittington collapsed on the altar of an election promise by then-Health Secretary Andy Burnham. For many years now King George's in Ilford has had the sword hanging over it and it looks like it will fall for sure.

    However, NHS London are still looking round for another victim. Emergency Departments (EDs, no longer called A&E) are expensive to run because of the staffing levels required and the other (non-Emergency Medicine) specialties who are required on-call in the hospital to see many of the patients. Unfortunately the powers-that-be that run hospitals at 100% bed capacity also think that an ED isn't pulling its weight unless it's bursting at the seams and looks like the Alamo every Friday night. The Homerton ED is not like that, partly because it is a very well-run department with out-of-hours GPs resident and partly because the workload simply isn't as bad as one might expect for Hackney (stabbings and shootings go straight to the Royal London).

    This is a good thing for patients as it means doctors can spend a bit more time and thought on them, but shamefully also means that it isn't 'busy enough' to justify its existence. I have spoken to a few people in other hospitals (ED consultants) who expect the Homerton to be closed one day. However the Homerton staff of course strenuously deny this. Their case is strengthened by the fact that their department is going to be setting up the polyclinic on the 2012 Olympic site.

    Personally I think it would be a disaster for Hackney if the Homerton ED were to close. The Save The Whittington campaign demonstrated (i) how a good publicity-generating campaign could be run and (ii) how people can force politician's hand by making them scared of losing votes. Hopefully if any plans to close the Homerton were to surface, this could be replicated locally.

    Watch this space.

  2. Thanks for this. I'll post it as a story at the weekend so more people get to see it. I've started a new job and don't have as much time as I used to for asking around. Also I'm not supposed to be doing this blog except at the weekends. But thanks, it looks like a space that needs to be watched.