Thursday, May 17, 2007

Tomorrow a Day of Decision for the Health Scrutiny Committees of Birmingham and Sandwell

City Hospital Supporters are not against modernisation and change but it must not increase risks to patients living in Birmingham or Sandwell. The Sandwell and West Birmingham Hospitals NHS Trust made public a letter from the Chief Executive of the West Midlands Strategic Health Authority to the Chief Executive of the Trust dated 3rd May 2007 at its Trust Board Meeting last week. In that letter the Strategic Health Authority list nine tests that must be satisfied in their minds in order to gain their support for the Trust proceeding with its reconfiguration proposals. They are of the view that these tests have been satisfactorily met. We would argue about tests 3,5,6.

Test 3 asks "Do they deliver real patient benefits in terms of quality and safety?"
We would simply ask is it safer to move sick children and adults after they have been "stabilised" at City Hospital or safer to care for them completely on one site? We believe the answer is self-evident.

Test 5 asks "Are the risks of implementing changes clearly identified and clearly mitigated?"
The Trust has not made this information public. Where is the data on ambulance travel times between City and Sandwell hospitals at different times of day? Have they done a full risk assessment? What are the risks for patients? What other hospitals in the country have such an arrangement and what has been their experience? The Strategic Health Authority needs answers to these questions as do we all.

Test 6 asks"Do they have clear support from the clinical workforce and do they respond to the future challenges of maintaining high quality clinical rotas etc under increasingly restrictive regulations?"

City Hospital Supporters KNOW that the Trust does not have the support of the Paediatricians and General Surgeons directly involved in losing inpatient services from City Hospital. We doubt that the rest of the medical staff at City Hospital truly support the Trust's reconfiguration plans. There has not been a ballot of City Hospital medical staff. The Trust has listened mainly to its appointed medical leaders not based at City Hospital. They have not listened to those directly involved.

So our hope for tomorrow is that the plans to move inpatient Emergency Surgery and inpatient Paediatrics will be referred to the Secretary of State so that the Independent Reconfiguration Panel can review the plans and listen to our concerns presented as evidence.

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