By Julia Gregory, Local Democracy Reporter
Politicians are determined to make sure the world-class Royal Brompton Hospital stays in Chelsea.
The hospital, which has a unique cardiac specialism, has played a leading role in the fight against coronavirus as medics use their skill to tackle the respiratory illness.
It is one of five hospitals in London with specialist machines which replace oxygen for seriously ill patients.
Kensington and Chelsea council is fighting back against the planned merger between the Royal Brompton and Harefield Trust with Guys and St Thomas’, which could see some facilities move to South London.
It held a special council meeting to debate its concerns over the future of the Brompton and the impact on health and the economy in Chelsea.
Cllr Janet Evans put her message across by saying “Hell no, you won’t go.”
But the Trust says although it plans to eventually create a new specialist heart and lung centre at the St Thomas’ Hospital site south of the Thames, the Brompton will remain where it is for at least a decade.
Before the meeting the Royal Brompton sent every councillor an 18-page briefing note.
The trust said: “Our long-term vision – to create a new world-leading heart and lung centre of excellence on the St Thomas’ site – will be the subject of public consultation and a number of other regulatory approvals when the time comes.
“Providing a sustainable future for the Trust’s specialist patient care and talented and dedicated staff is our focus at all times, and we look forward to continuing our dialogue with the Royal Borough as our plans develop.”
But the council agreed unanimously it wants the government to review the merger.
The council’s deputy leader, Kim Taylor-Smith, said: “There’s not one thing about the impact on our borough in the impact briefing.”
Councillors also claimed “the future of the Royal Brompton Hospital is being decided behind closed doors with little information or inclusion of RBKC, although it is the lead local authority affected by its possible closure”.
Some of the councillors have even been treated at the Royal Brompton. They include Adrian Berrill-Cox. He has previously told a council meeting he “would be in a box were it not for the Brompton” after he suffered a heart attack.
Marwan Elnaghi, who chairs the council’s adult social care and health select committee, said: “This iconic establishment with a history of research is worth saving.
“It would be disastrous for residents in Kensington and Chelsea if it were to leave the borough.”
Fellow Labour councillor Sina Lari said the site spread over several streets in Chelsea is worth an estimated £1billion to property developers.
But he warned: “If it was to be sold there is a reasonable chance it would be sold at well below market value.”
Cllr Ian Henderson said the Brompton had been crucial in its care of patients during the pandemic.
He said: “The shutdown of an NHS respiratory hospital is unacceptable at this time.”
The Brompton trust said the hospital would treat patients at Chelsea if there was a second wave of coronavirus.
A trust spokeswoman said: “Royal Brompton Hospital will remain in Chelsea for many years to come – probably a decade. Patients will continue to see their clinical teams as they do now.”
Pictured top: The Royal Brompton Hospital in Chelsea
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