Wednesday, 22 August 2007

Better late than never

David Cameron's sudden interest in NHS closures is better late than never.
This article appeared on the BBC news website last September:

A shocking new report could spell the end for your local hospital.

The East of England Strategic Health Authority (SHA) is to undertake a major review of health services.

And for the first time the wholesale closure of a district and general hospital is not being ruled out.

That is because the SHA wants to look at centralising some clinical services in "super" hospitals rather than providing care in several district hospitals.

District hospitals are under threat because it's been suggested that
some are just too small to cover costs
fewer and fewer patients may end up being treated there
patients will be given much more choice about where to go
So money and resources could be concentrated on fewer "super hospitals".

This report will have long term implications to the way in which we are treated - and where.

The health chiefs at the East of England Strategic Health Authority have launched this explosive report that could see the closure or downgrading of one or more of the 19 district general hospitals in Bedfordshire, Cambridgeshire, Essex, Hertfordshire, Norfolk and Suffolk.

Hospitals at risk

Most vulnerable to the upheaval is Hinchingbrooke Hospital in Huntingdon.

It is the smallest district general in the East yet has the largest debt of £24m.

The SHA will also look at cutting the number of sites providing emergency care.

The last 12 months have seen debts in the health service in the East top £200m.

So is the review about patient care or balancing the books?

Paul Watson
Paul Watson is scrutinising regional health services

Dr Paul Watson, Director of Commissioning for The East of England Strategic Health Authority said: "Many of our hospitals across the East of England are currently in very serious financial difficulty and we need to find a way of helping them through that.

"One of the ways we can do that is to look at the organisation of hospital services."

The number of Accident and Emergency Departments is under particular scrutiny with suggestions that the region could have 50% fewer.

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