No reprieve for Chiswick Lodge

Hospital to be closed and site to be sold by PCT

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Hounslow PCT’s Board has announced that it is intending to sell the land on which Chiswick Lodge hospital is situated. The news will come as a massive disappointment to the Save Chiswick Lodge campaign which has been aiming to retain the building as a health care facility for the local population. A spokesperson for the campaign said, "The PCT are wantonly disposing of an expensive gift to the community which can never now be replaced."

The PCT say that the building no longer meets current care standards and would require considerable investment to bring it up to the necessary level. Their financial position is such that it cannot develop new services on this site, or invest in refurbishment.

PCT Chief Executive John James said, “We appreciate that some people may be disappointed with the decision, but it really is the only viable option. We’ve listened very carefully to the concerns raised by many members of the public and we have tried to act on those concerns. Our commitment to further examination of the needs of older people - and to investment in services for older people in the East of the borough from the proceeds of the sale - was clearly welcome."

He added that it would be in his view irresponsible to invest funding that could be used for patient care in bringing the Chiswick facility up to the standards necessary for 21st century health care.

The Board considered representations from the Chiswick community, including a petition containing 1860 signatures, when it discussed the next steps for Chiswick Lodge at its meeting on 28th October. The site is now planned to be sold by March of next year.

The Save Chiswick Lodge Action Group have reacted angrily to the news saying that the PCT had ignored the evidence that had been presented to them. They say that the residential provision for the frail elderly in East Hounslow (Brentford, Chiswick and Isleworth) is completely inadequate with no beds for intermediate care and rehabilitation, only 15 beds for older people with mental illness and only 7% of the residential and residential nursing care beds in the borough based in Chiswick despite the area having the highest mean age for its population.

They claim that Hounslow PCT is following a policy of placing people outside their own communities for residential care in order to save money rather than making an effort to retain a 'magnificent' facility.

They also blasted the PCT board for having someone sitting at their table 'with a pink tinsel garland round his neck'. The campaign's spokesperson said, "when the future of the frail elderly and other sensitive matters were being discussed, I really do not know why except to indicate a complete insensitivity to the aspirations and wishes of the community. "

The hospital was originally endowed by Dan Mason owner of Chiswick Polish the company that brought us Cherry Blossom with the specific intention of benefitting the people of Chiswick but there is no specific plan that the money raised from the sale will be spent in this area.

A statement from local councillors said of the planned sale, "Yet again we seem to be the cash-cow from Hounslow. Chiswick Age Concern, local political parties and the clear majority of local residents are opposed to this cavalier disposal of a much loved asset."

The details of the site will be circulated to other NHS trusts, local authorities, government departments in West London to assess their interest in the site. External companies will be invited to bid for the redevelopment of the site, indicating a preference for a health, social care or housing provider subject to this "providing value for money".

The Chiswick Lodge site is located near Hogarth roundabout and has been housing day services for elderly people with mental illness from Hammersmith for the last few years. These services are now moving to Hammersmith, and other patients with disabilities have moved to the Royal Hospital and Home, Putney.

Pat Sterne of the Save Chiswick Lodge Action Group said, "We shall carry on the fight.  We invite anyone who is concerned about the PCT decision to join us."

October 29, 2004