Saturday, 6 August 2016

Chorley A&E closure - the start of privatisation

Ambulances queue outside Preston Hospital, Credit: Steve Holgate

I think I need to go on an anger management course after hearing the news this week that Chorley hospital's newly built Urgent Care Centre is to be privatised.

I BLOGGED earlier about the Trust attempting to justify the A&E closure with the mantra of can't recruit enough suitably qualified and experienced doctors.

I proved that this wasn't the case and the ultimate goal was for patients to be served via two urgent care centres and upon escalation fed into a single A&E at Preston.
The Trust had staffing problems back in 2014 and were rated as 'requiring improvements' by the Care Quality Commission (CQC). But instead of recruiting more permanent staff, the Trust filled the rotas with locums & agency staff and paid a consultant £375,000 to work overtime for the rest of the rota gap.

How temporary is 'temporary'

The trust claim the Chorley A&E  closure is 'temporary' due to a lack of doctors. Yet how is it possible to close an A&E for 12 months on a temporary basis when its taken the trust TWO YEARS to find enough doctors and they STILL haven't come up with a solution?
The people of Chorley & South Ribble have good reason to be wary. Historically, there is a direct correlation between the opening of a hospitals Urgent Care Centre immediately followed by the closure of its A&E department.
The motto of Chorley council is 'be aware', but on occasion no matter how wary we are some things slip through the net. The closure of the A&E at Chorley and subsequent privatisation of the Trusts urgent care centres is not going to slip through the net.

A Tsunami of Patients

Since the Trust board closed the A&E at Chorley, Lancashire Teaching Hospitals NHS foundation Trust must now deal with the overcrowding problems at their only other A&E in Preston.

Campaigners have called for the Trust board to resign, and quite rightly so.
Only this week, a county Councillor reported up to FIFTEEN ambulances queued outside the Preston hospital. And yesterday an elderly pensioner in chorley had to wait over TWO HOURS for an ambulance to arrive after falling and seriously injuring themselves.

When one or more hospital trusts 'merge' into a single trust covering a larger area, service reconfigurations, such as A&E closures ALWAYS follow.

On closing an A&E, the same problems arise at the surrounding A&E hospitals due to the inability to cope with the demand:

  • elective surgery cancelled or re-scheduled
  • ambulance turnaround times increase
  • re-admission rates increase
  • radiography data backlogs
  • increase in number of doctors & nurses in attempt to deal with problem
  • additional finances thrown at MAU's and SAU's 
  • increase in agency staff & accompanying rota problems
  • severe decrease in quality of patient care
  • increase in mortality rates
  • ambulances re-directed to alternative ED sites (cross border)
  • increase in staff becoming sick/ill leading to more locum/agency dependency
  • intimidation, harassment and bullying of staff to get the job done
  • ....
the list is endless, and all is needed is for someone who knows how frontline services should be run and funds allocated appropriately.

The NHS is run, not by consultants, doctors and nurses, or commissioning groups. It is run by incompetent bureaucrats whose solution to a problem is to follow a service reconfiguration plan based on no evidence apart from if the plan fails, as we know it will, we can introduce our external private provider.

The public are usually the last to know when hospital service reconfiguration plans are in the pipeline.
Nor more so than the tender by the clinical commissioning group to allow a private company to run the urgent care centres at Chorley and Preston.  more on this later...

The people of Chorley who funded the initial build of the hospital are akin to bull terriers, once they get their teeth into an issue, they will not let go. I've experienced over 23 years of campaigning to improve and save NHS services, yet I've never seen such resolve of the people of Chorley & south Ribble and surrounding areas.

I'm proud to stand alongside them..............

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