Tonight’s meeting to receive a presentation from the NHS on the plans for health services in our area was unusually interesting.
In just about every presentation councillors get, we only hear one side of the argument. But tonight we heard both sides , because one of the consultants that came, Dr Caroline Howard, wasn’t in agreement with the other NHS representatives regarding A&E services.
The option that seems favoured by the NHS decision makers is have a “red/orange/yellow ” structure for Basildon, Southend and Broomfield hospitals.
- A “Red” hospital would concentrate on acute medical services – in other words, the really urgent stuff like heart attack victims.
- An “Orange ” hospital would be like hospitals are at present, with a mixture of acute and elective surgery , so they would treat both heart attack victims and people waiting for elective surgery like hip replacements.
- A “Yellow” hospital would concentrate on elective surgery
Under the proposed structure, Basildon would be the “Red” hospital, while Broomfield and Southend would sill have A&E departments for people to visit – but all A&E ambulances would go to Basildon.
Dr Howard stated that the lead clinicians (the senior A&E consultants) at all three hospitals were opposed to this idea. One aspect was longer journey times for ambulances reduces the chances of survival. Another is that without offering the practical experience of dealing with the patients brought in by ambulance, the A&E departments at Southend and Broomfield wouldn’t be able to retain specialist A&E staff.
On other issues there was more general agreement. But a common problem was a lack of consultants , nurses and GPs. The GP problem is acute in our area – we have the second highest numbr of GP vacancies and the second highest number of GPs due for retirement. The long term answer is to train more GPs, but this will take 10 years, so in the short term our local NHS is trying to recruit 50 GPs from the EU.
Cllr Diane Hoy asked a good question about whether the ending of the bursary for trainee nurses had had an impact on recuitment and the answer was a definite yes – by about 60%
Cllr Chris Black summed up the evening by saying about half the councillors were doubtful about the changes to A&E – and the other half were dead against.