Tuesday, March 06, 2007

Hospital changes

I've just been to a meeting at City Hospital to be briefed on the latest thinking over the changes to our local health services.

City and Sandwell Hospitals have been consulting on a series of immediate changes - and also on their long term plans to create a single "super hospital" in Smethwick, on the Birmingham border.

The immediate changes would involve moving children's wards from City to Sandwell along with emergency surgery - although City would retain its 24-hour accident department.

This has caused me concern because some of the families from the Aston end of our ward rely on public transport to get to City Hospital and get treatment for their children.

So managers are making some concessions here - and a paediatrician was present to confirm they wanted these changes. They are hoping that City Hospital will continue to provide a 24-hour assessment unit for children - originally 12 hours was proposed - and this could keep a child in overnight for up to 24 hours. They are also looking at providing free transport from City to Sandwell for parents if a child is admitted to the wards.

Second concern is about emergency surgery. What happens for example if a gun or knife victim is deposited at City Hospital's front door? The answer seems to be that they will call surgeons into City to perform the emergency surgery. The patient would of course be made stable by accident staff.

Looking ahead to the superhospital planned for 2014, it seems inevitable the plan will be approved. Many people from Perry Barr and Great Barr will lose out by having to travel further and there was a lot of concern about this when it was discussed at the ward committee a month ago.

They are promising a mini-hospital with urgent care facilities in Aston. The concern is that these urgent care facilities may only be open 12-14 hours a day. Also that the record of these mini-centres is that they can be cut back when the financial times get hard in the NHS. So we need to keep a close eye on the development of these facilities.


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