The Outline Business Case for the changes in where and how Mid Yorkshire Hospitals NHS Trust provides services has been accepted by the local health community and a huge consultation exercise will soon begin.
I know this news will worry and anger some North Kirklees residents but I would ask everyone to consider some key points and then make their views heard through the consultation process.
Health services have changed dramatically in the past few years to put the emphasis on keeping people as healthy as they can be so they aren’t rushed to hospital in an emergency. Most of this is done through GP surgeries and many services that used to mean a trip to hospital (blood tests, blood pressure tests, clinics etc) are now available locally. We call this ‘care closer to home’.
So, if fewer people become ill because their condition is well managed, fewer people will need emergency treatment or to be in hospital. That means we need fewer hospital beds ‘just in case’.
The urgent care centre proposed for Dewsbury and District Hospital will be able to treat almost all the people who are taken or make their way there at the moment. The ‘full blown’ A&E proposed for Pinderfields Hospital would effectively be a major trauma centre, with the highly skilled staff and equipment to care for those with life threatening illness or injury.
Let’s not forget the role of the ambulance service. An ambulance is so much more than a taxi with a blue light on top – ambulance staff are highly skilled in life support and will stabilise patients while they’re on the way to the most appropriate specialist care centre. That could be the nearest emergency centre or somewhere further away. That already happens locally with people who have a stroke – they are taken to Pinderfields because that is where the specialist team is based.
People needing planned operations will have their operation where the specialist surgeons are, but will have post operative checks at clinics closer to home . This might be an inconvenience but because medical techniques have improved so much in the past few years, patients are well enough to go home much more quickly. For example, a hip replacement used to mean a ten day stay in hospital, now it’s three of four; people who had a heart attack could be in hospital for around 12 days, now they’re home in three days. There is no difference in the quality of treatment or the outcome, it’s just that treatments and techniques have improved.
Last but not least, the NHS does not have a limitless pot of money and we have to make best use of the cash that is available to spend. Hospitals are very expensive to run and they depend on lots of highly skilled people and some of those skills are in short supply nationally. We have to make the best use of what’s available.
If you read the first blog I wrote – In defence of GPs – you’ll see that I care passionately about the NHS and providing the best possible health care for the people of North Kirklees. NHS North Kirklees CCG voted to support the outline business case because we want to make sure high quality, accessible care continues to be available at Dewsbury District Hospital. Making that happens means we have to support changes across the Mid Yorkshire area and do things differently in the community – that’s our ambition as a new organisation.