Surgeon’s fears over hospital changes
Last updated at 12:15, Thursday, 10 October 2013
THE transfer of services from the West Cumberland Hospital needs to halted before it becomes a “glorified cottage hospital”, a former senior consultant has warned.
Masesh Dhebar, a retired orthopaedic consultant at the WCH, has spoken out to criticise the Trust that runs the hospital for transferring high-risk surgery to the Cumberland Infirmary (CIC) in Carlisle, without public consultation, as of October 1.
There are too many variables when defining a “high-risk” patient, says Mr Dhebar, which has allowed the North Cumbria University Hospitals Trust’s management “to bundle everything together and call it high-risk and transfer every type of surgery to Carlisle”.
He added; “There will be no need for an intensive care unit at WCH.”
The Trust’s decision to transfer high-risk surgery to CIC has been met with widespread criticism since it was announced last month. Critics say the decision conflicts with what was agreed following 2008’s Closer To Home consultation, and has led to fears over the future of other services, including maternity and obstetrics.
The Trust says the move arose out of safety concerns at the WCH. Two to three patients a week transfer to the CIC, it says, and return to Whitehaven for their ongoing care and rehabilitation or go straight home. It added: “The vast majority of other emergency care will continue to be delivered at the WCH in line with national standards.”
Mr Dhebar raised further concern about the aftercare available to patients, describing the current situation as “chaotic”.
He said: “Does travelling time and distance have any detrimental effect on outcome? As far as I can see, for patients from West Cumbria, safe aftercare is non-existent. Once a patient transfers back to WCH from CIC, no one is in charge, no one is accountable. It is very chaotic, and no one is making definitive decisions for further management of the patient.
“Traditionally, care is safe – when the operating surgeon is responsible for the aftercare of that patient. The present situation is unsafe and unacceptable, and the Trust’s interim management does not seem to acknowledge that.”
The Trust responded: “In the first week in September, the executive management Team was informed by the general surgeons that as a result of safety concerns at WCH, an urgent decision was required to transfer high-risk surgery to the CIC.
“The reasons provided included changes to national guidelines from the Royal College of Surgeons; the critical mass of patients that would be needed to deliver a safe service 24/7; and the size and expertise of the team required to deliver this 24/7 service safely.
“We are putting safety first and foremost and this has been supported by the NHS Trust Development Authority (TDA) and NHS Cumbria Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG). Any patients who require high-risk surgery will have their procedure at the CIC where teams of specialist surgeons are available 24 hours a day, seven days a week, to ensure the safest possible care and best possible clinical outcomes.”
Mr Dhebar has also joined Copeland MP Jamie Reed, council leader Elaine Woodburn and others in calling for a public consultation into the changes.
Cumbria’s Clinical Commissioning Group, the GP-lead committee responsible for public consultation, confirmed this week that “no permanent changes” will be made to services without consultation.
A spokeswoman said: “Everyone recognises the challenges in making sure that the population of West Cumbria has nearby access to a full range of high-quality healthcare services.
“Collectively, we agree the urgent need to ensure a clear understanding of the services that will be provided within the new hospital. We also agreed that no permanent changes should take place without full consultation and the consent of local people.”
See page 12 for Mr Dhebar’s letter in full.
Copeland MP Jamie Reed retained his position as shadow health minister in this week’s shadow cabinet reshuffle announced by opposition leader Ed Miliband.
First published at 11:51, Thursday, 10 October 2013
Published by http://www.whitehavennews.co.uk
Have your say
Why are there no comment? Surely this subject deserves careful debate and consideration? The Trust running the hospitals are slowly eking away services by eroding the infrastructure at WCH, eg anaesthetic and other support, which will eventually mean a threat to the sustainability of maternity/obstetrics and other services such as ICU......dÃ©jÃ vu with a side order of apathy anyone??
This has been the plan all along, to turn it into a cottage hospital. Ask longstanding members of the WCH project team.