PRESS RELEASE: Healthwatch Camden find very low levels of awareness about changes to A+E service


Anyone under 18 and needing emergency care should now avoid attending the Royal Free London Hospital or UCLH (University College London Hospital) and attend the Whittington Hospital.

Parents and families are also being encouraged to call NHS 111.

Senior leaders in the NHS (North London Partners in Health and Care) believe these changes will help to ensure the best and safest care can be provided over the winter period.

Although, research conducted by Healthwatch Camden on social media suggests awareness levels of the changes are very low, with only 1 in 10 people reporting that they were aware of the changes1.

Reflecting on these findings Matthew Parris, Director of Healthwatch Camden, said:

“We’ve been reassured by the NHS that children attending the wrong A+E will still be seen and, where appropriate, treated. However, we remain concerned that in a small number of cases, valuable time might be lost in accessing specialist treatment.

To ensure children and young people are able to continue to access high quality care, an effective information campaign is essential, to ensure that sick children attend the right place first time.”

At a recent meeting with Healthwatch Camden the NHS confirmed these changes were necessary, but temporary, in order to ensure services can meet the challenge posed by Covid-19 over the winter.

Commenting on the service changes, local people told Healthwatch Camden they were concerned about compromises being made to non-Covid services, and whether the changes would, in fact, be temporary. Others queried how changes provided for the ‘best possible care’, when they would be harder for some people to access.

Mr Parris added:

“In these challenging times, we all need to get behind the NHS and support those that are taking these very difficult decisions. At the same time, we all have a responsibility to speak up about our experience of the NHS, to ensure services can adapt and respond appropriately.”

He continued: 

“NHS 111 will need the capacity to deal with an increase in calls from parents in emergency situations. At the beginning of the pandemic, we heard about long waiting times for NHS 111, and so we were encouraged to hear that the capacity of the service will be increased by 20% over the winter period.”

Senior leaders have confirmed that they are working on a communications campaign, working in partnership with schools, the voluntary sector and Camden Council.

Local families concerned about these changes are being encouraged to contact Healthwatch Camden on 0207 3832 402 or via

The Whittington Hospital in Archway on Magdala Avenue, N19 5NF is now the place to go for anyone in Camden needing urgent children’s accident and emergency services. Barnet Hospital will also be providing accident and emergency services for children and young people.

1 1,998 participants, social media poll, 18th to 24th September 2020 (not a representative sample)



Notes to editors

  1. Healthwatch is the independent watchdog created to gather and represent the views of the public. Healthwatch plays a role at both national and local level to ensure that the views of people that use services are taken into account. It provides a collective voice for health and social care users in Camden.
  1. Healthwatch Camden has a seat on the Camden Health and Wellbeing Board and can alert Healthwatch England and the Care Quality Commission (CQC) to concerns about services.
  1. Local Healthwatch functions and powers are set out in the Health and Social Care Act 2012.
  1. For more information contact: 0207 3832 402, email: