PROPOSED NEW CHANGES TO SE LONDON NHS IN DANGER OF CAUSING ‘BACK DOOR’ CLOSURES OF A&E DEPARTMENTS

7942205The lead scrutiny councillor on Lewisham Council, Alan Hall, is calling on ministers and NHS bosses to ensure that a review of orthopaedic services in south east London does not become a back-door programme to close Accident and Emergency departments.

Cllr Alan Hall, Chair of the borough’s Overview and Scrutiny Committee, was commenting on the Sustainability and Transformation Plan (STP  part of Our Healthier South East London (OHSEL) which proposes that planned orthopaedic operations currently carried out at 5 south east London hospitals be cut back to 2 specialist centres.

Cllr Alan Hall said: “Many people following this process already have well-founded concerns about the lack of transparency and consultation so far and the knock-on effects of ending planned operations at local south east London hospitals.

“It is widely understood that the loss of elective orthopaedic operations would likely also mean the loss of funding, different types of clinical expertise and staff training which are all vital back-ups to a fully functioning Accident and Emergency Department.

“The public expect that South East London continues to have our five Accident and Emergency Departments fully operational at Lewisham, King’s College, St.Thomas’, Princess Royal in Farnborough and Greenwich.

“There must be no back-door closures of A&E units as a result of any planned changes.”

Cllr Hall was speaking at Lewisham Town Hall at a scrutiny meeting jointly held by the six south London boroughs of Lewisham, Lambeth, Southwark, Greenwich, Bexley and Bromley which was looking at the plans.

He went on to say: “I have called for the full publication of these ‘secret’ NHS plans and now the OHSEL proposals make this more acute. The public deserves to have an informed consultation on any changes to our local NHS. Full disclosure of the STP for SE London is the first step.”

“Surgeons and medics have reviewed the proposal for two new Orthopaedic Centres and they have expressed concerns. Before the public are consulted there should be a strong clinical case with evidence clearly presented.

“The changes could be quite costly to implement and there is already a view that the current elective orthopaedic services are already effective and efficient and that the money would be better spent by investing in them.”

If the two centres chosen are Guy’s Hospital – part of Guy’s and St Thomas’ Foundation Trust –  and Orpington Hospital – part of King’s College Hospital Foundation Trust – then Lewisham A&E would be the most vulnerable A&E Department with this change.

The Joint Health Overview and Scrutiny Committee did not agree that consultation on two new Orthopaedic Centres should go ahead until they had seen the basis for that option.

ENDS

Editor’s Notes

The NHS Clinical Senate has made recommendations on the two orthopaedic centre proposals in South East London this report is here

The Government has ordered that the NHS must have Sustainability and Transformation Plans and have not released the full version for South East London. The full South East London – Sustainability and Transformation Plan should be released to allow informed and transparent decision making

  • Any option for change should include the enhanced status quo at the current sites as mentioned in the Clinical Senate report
  • Loss of elective orthopaedics on the viability of all current Trusts – hospitals – supporting an A&E is a consideration – major trauma as well as other trauma centres see Clinical Senate report
  • If the consultation goes ahead then all options must be included – not just Guys and Orpington
  • Capital finance is scarce therefore the most efficient use of capital that improves services is a consideration

Councillor Alan Hall is Chair of Lewisham’s Overview and Scrutiny Committee consisting of 45 Non Executive Councillors of all parties. He is a member of the Joint Overview and Scrutiny Committee looking at Our Healthier South East London – NHS changes to local services across SE London.

Campaign group 38 degrees have said: “Health Minister Jeremy Hunt has a secret plan to force through changes to local NHS services to cut costs. The changes – called “sustainability and transformation plans” – are being kept secret. [1] But they could mean cuts to hospital beds, local walk-in centres or family planning services near you… No wonder Jeremy Hunt doesn’t want us to see them.”

A meeting of the Joint Health Overview & Scrutiny Committee – JHOSC – consisting of Bexley, Bromley, Greenwich, Lambeth, Lewisham and Southwark Councillors will meet at Lewisham Town Hall at 7pm on Tuesday 11th October 7pm the papers are here.

Health and Care systems across the country are being asked to put together local Sustainability and Transformation Plans to address gaps in funding and care over the next five years.