Sunday, June 03, 2007

SWBH Plans Featured on The Politics Show

The Politics Show had a piece today about the controversial plans being considered at Sandwell & West Birmingham Hospitals NHS Trust. If you missed the program do not worry; you can watch the programme by clicking on this link and pressing the latest programme button on the right hand side (this should be available for the next week). The article starts 10 minutes 20 seconds in, although you may be interested in the piece on euthanasia which precedes it.

The programme started by interviewing an anonymous man who had been treated at City A&E for gunshot wounds, underlining the point that we are moving away emergency general & trauma surgery beds from an area with a high gun crime and stab wound incidence rate. When added to the fact mentioned by Councillor Deirdre Alden that when the General Hospital closed, Dudley Road Hospital was renamed City Hospital and we were told it would be the hospital for Birmingham City Centre, we have the main reasons why the interim reconfiguration proposals are so ridiculous. We reiterate again that we are not against the building of the new hospital and the investment outlined in Towards 2013/14 2010. We simply want to ensure that until the new hospital is built, and we have some proper plans for it instead of just spin and conjecture, services should remain at the same high quality they are now.

When Sue Davies, Trust Chair, responded to this point she said that Birmingham had three hospitals and so there was a choice where you can go. This completely misses the point. If you are being admitted for emergency surgery, you do not choose where you go. The Ambulance service takes you to the most appropriate local hospital. At the moment they can take you to City, which is roughly 10 minutes away from the City Centre. In future, they may decide to spend another 15 minutes taking you further down the road to Sandwell Hospital, or more likely take you to Heartlands or University Hospital. Either way, whether you are the victim of gun crime in Winson Green or have an accident in Birmingham City Centre, it will take the Ambulance longer to get you there.

Hugh Bradby, the medical director at SWBH, again used the argument that one is better off travelling further away to the best services rather than being treated locally in poorer facilities!!!! I have pointed out on this blog before in a previous post that I believe this statement is misleading. Currently we have acceptable facilities at both sites to manage emergency surgical and paediatric patients. It is the Trust that want to reduce these facilities at City and concentrate them at Sandwell, so the choice is really between being able to keep the patient at the same site where everything can be done or then having to move them to a new site after an arbitrary period of time.

Another quote, this time from the programme was by Marie Welch, a mother of four who has two children with special needs. In response to the replacement of emergency paediatric beds with a 24 hour PAU at City she said to the Trust:

"If you lived my life, walked in my shoes you wouldn't do what you're doing. It would stay."

Sue Davies' response to this was that more and more children are now being treated in the community rather than in hospital beds. However, there is currently a shortage of paediatric beds in Birmingham which will be made worse by these proposals. We already see children being transferred to hospitals outside the City due to paediatric beds being at full capacity.

I must be honest that I felt a bit sorry for Sue Davies. The lady did not look comfortable defending the indefensible.

The presenter finished by pointing out that there is another Dr Taylor in the region who is an MP as a result of plans to change the local hospital services. Would Ken consider running for MP, he asked? Dr Ken Taylor replied that he was ruling nothing out!

I guess we will have to see what the outcome is of the referral of the surgical plans to the Secretary of State and the overall proposals to the Commission for Racial Equality.

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