Nick started the Hands Off Our Hospital campaign in 2004 in response to the then Labour Government's plans to downgrade Chase Farm Hospital. Nick opposed the BEH Clinical Strategy which recommended replacing 24-hour A&E with an Urgent Care Centre and consultant-led maternity with a midwife-led unit.
On becoming an MP Nick continued to campaign against changes at Chase Farm. In March 2011 he led a cross-party delegation to meet Health Secretary Andrew Lansley, the result of which saw Enfield Council given the opportunity to produce a plan to rival the BEH Clinical Strategy and save services at Chase Farm.
The Independent Reconfiguration Panel (IRP) ruled that the council's plan "does not provide any credible alternative to the current proposals" and therefore backed the BEH Clinical Strategy. Health Secretary Andrew Lansley endorsed their decision, leading Nick to criticise both the IRP and the Health Secretary, saying "I'm disappointed by the IRP's decision. Frankly I think it's the wrong decision. Chase Farm Hospital should have a 24-hour A&E unit, end of story. I also think the Secretary of State is wrong to endorse the IRP's decision".
When Enfield Council proposed seeking a judicial review of the Health Secretary's decision, Nick gave the Labour administration his full support. So did local Conservative councillors. The subsequent decision by Enfield Council not to challenge the decision in court led the Enfield Advertiser to accuse Labour of "cowardice", saying the people of Enfield have been "failed by their council".
Nick still maintains that Chase Farm should have a 24-hour A&E unit and consultant-led maternity services.
Today the Enfield Advertiser's Koos Couvee has the story on the latest development with Chase Farm Hospital.
Nick has written to Council Leader, Cllr Doug Taylor, about exploring new grounds for a legal challenge against the removal of services from Chase Farm.
The Enfield Advertiser had accused the Labour-run adminstration of "cowardice" back in December 2011 after failing to go ahead with a judicial review to challenge the Government's decision to downgrade the Hospital.
However, Cllr Taylor has told the Advertiser he was happy to meet lawyers and discuss the possibility of legal action. Nick has already secured a meeting for him, his fellow Enfield MPs, and Enfield councillors to meet with Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt in the very near future.
Nick said, "People in Enfield expect their local representatives to fight for Chase Farm and I'm determined to get the best possible services at our local hospital. Residents will be reassured that we can put party differences aside to work together in the best interests of the borough".
As reported in today's Enfield Advertiser, Nick has hit out at the lack of progress with improving primary care services in Enfield - something that was promised to have been put in place before reconfiguration could go ahead.
Nick told the Advertiser's Koos Couvee, "It is vital that that promise is delivered, but it is already some four years since the change was envisaged and very little has been put in".
Nick has secured a cross-party delegation to the Health Secretary to discuss Chase Farm in March.
As reported in the Enfield Advertiser yesterday, Nick has secured a commitment from Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt to recieve a cross party delegation to discuss Chase Farm.
The delegation will consist of the most senior elected representatives in the borough - the three MPs and Leader of Enfield Council.
Nick took the opportunity to call for a delegation following the statement about Lewisham hospital in south London. Nick said, "The Secretary of State recognises that Lewisham is the victim of an unfair decision as a result of failed PFI and failed finance, which were not of his making. He will recognise the striking similarities with Chase Farm hospital, which has also been downgraded because of the appalling PFI arrangements at neighbouring hospitals. He knows that I utterly oppose that decision. Given the present concerns, particularly with regard to implementation, will he meet me and a cross-party delegation to look closely at these matters?"
The Secretary of State replied, "I recognise how hard my hon. Friend has campaigned on behalf of his constituents and how deeply they feel about these issues. He knows that the decision has been made. We want to get the safe implementation of that decision absolutely right and I would be more than happy to meet him to discuss how we can best ensure that that happens."
Recently Nick joined Nick Ferrari on his LBC breakfast show to take part in the morning review of the news - part of the review centred around plans to downgrade services at Lewisham Hospital - in very similar circumstances to those which led to the threatned downgrage of Chase Farm Hospital.
As part of the review Nick explained why he felt the downgrade of Chase Farm Hospital was wrong - he rejected claims by NHS boses that Members of Parliament should not campaign against the downgrading of local NHS services saying he was elected to fight the downgrading of Chase Farm Hospital and therefore has continused to do so in Parliament.
Nick attacked the consultation process, saying it was "flawed" as obviously the people of Haringey and Barnet would be happy to see services in Enfield downgraded. You can listen to this section of the Nick Ferrari show in full here.
Today Nick appeared on BBC 2's The Daily Politics to discuss Chase Farm Hospital.
He rejected claims by NHS chiefs that MPs should not campaign against hospital A&E closures, saying he was elected to fight against the downgrade of Chase Farm.
You can watch the interview on BBC iplayer here. This will only be available for one week but a youtube version will follow soon.
Nick attacked the so-called consultation process, saying "If you say we're going to consult with a majority of people from Barnet, from Haringey and from Enfield - which is exactly the area we're talking about - is it any wonder that there is a majority which is based on Barnet and Haringey that says we'd rather downgrade Chase Farm and give everything to our neighbouring hospitals, which is now what is happening."
Responding to claims from NHS chiefs that MPs should back hospital downgrades, Nick said "If you going to have a transparent, open, honest consultation I think the medical profession have a chance [of making their case]. But I'm not signing up to anything that's been going on with Chase Farm where it's not transparent, it hasn't been fair and frankly it's wrong."
Videos - short and long versions - now available below.
Sir Bruce Keogh, respected surgeon and current director of medicine for the NHS has criticised politicians for defending local service re-configuration. Nick has responded to his points in an open letter.
Sir Bruce Keogh, the former heart surgeon who now leads on standards and performance in the health service, told the Guardian this weekend that failing to embrace change, including closures, would inhibit excellence and "perpetuate mediocrity". Given the lengthy battle Enfield residents have experienced with Chase Farm Hospital and the proposals to move some service to North Mids Hospital and Barnet he could have been talking directly to Enfield residents, and therefore Nick felt it important to challenge some of his points.
Dear Sir Bruce,
As Medical Director of the NHS responsible for standards and performance I was interested in your comments that MPs by defending local interests are "consigning hospitals to mediocrity". I believe your comments are wrong because you fail to understand that driving change is as much about winning the hearts and minds of the public you serve, as it is about winning a clinical argument on excellence with politicians.
My hospital Chase Farm in Enfield, North London has been subject to re- configuration proposals since 2003. During that time NHS London adopted a flawed consultation process with the public, often carefully selected individuals meeting in central London hotels far removed from the locality the hospital served. The NHS failed to be transparent and consistent in their arguments over the years leading to mistrust and lack of confidence in the administrative leadership of NHS London,Enfield PCT and the acute hospital board of Chase Farm, Barnet and North Middlesex.
No wonder in 2010 I was elected on a mandate to defend Chase Farm against the downgrade of the A&E unit in particular. My concern is that you choose to dismiss the electoral mandate so easily and with such contempt underlines exactly why the public do not trust the management of the NHS as they fail to engage or listen to the concerns of informed local patients and residents.
If re-configuration is the route to clinical excellence in hospitals why were the medical front line profession not taking the lead in arguing for these changes? Since 2003 in Enfield I don't recall many GPs or clinical leads from the acute hospitals publicly arguing for the changes. I hope that on reflection you will realise it is not politicians who are just concerned about some of the proposals for change but the public that elected the MPs. That is why I and my residents will continue to fight these proposals.
That to date both this government and the last have chosen to ignore the views of patients and residents despite their repeated pledge not to do so is deeply regrettable.
The Sunday Telegraph has reported that 17 NHS hospitals have dangerously low staffing levels, according to rulings by the official safety watchdog – one of which is Chase Farm Hospital.
The Care Quality Commission conducted an inspection at one hospital ward at Chase Farm on 20 August 2012 and found it not to be meeting the required standards in respect of staffing and some documentation.
Over the weekend Nick has contacted Chase Farm Hospital Chief Executive Dr Tim Peachey to seek assurances that current staffing levels are safe.
Nick said, "Patients and residents in Enfield will be extremely concerned for patient care and safety at Chase Farm after reading that our hospital had been described as "dangerously understaffed". It is totally unacceptable. I know that the survey was from August 2012 but I have sought assurances from the Interim Chief Executive over the weekend and today that present staffing levels are safe. I have pressed him to ensure that the changes agreed when the hospital were made aware of the failings have been put in place and regularly monitored."
He added, "Of course, there is continued uncertainty over whether Enfield Council will seek a judicial review of the downgrade of Chase Farm. It is a shame Enfield Council took so long to appoint independent consultants to monitor Chase Farm after making a pledge in December 2011, but I hope the report from the consultants which is due soon will give a clear verdict on services and staffing at Chase Farm. As I have said before, I would support the Council pursuing a judicial review if the promises over primary care have not been kept."