Common sense prevails over A&E and Maternity services at Croydon University Hospital
As regular readers of this blog will know, the NHS in south west London is currently reviewing its services. The review is called Better Services Better Value and yesterday the review team published its conclusions. It is recommending:
· major, sustained improvements in GP and community services - many more services delivered in GP surgeries, community settings and people’s homes, including specific support for people with long term conditions and people nearing the end of their lives;
· centralising emergency care in three expanded emergency departments to be located at Croydon University, Kingston and St George’s Hospitals, each with an integrated urgent care centre and children’s A&E. St Helier Hospital to retain a stand-alone urgent care centre which could treat up to half of its current A&E patients;
· centralising maternity care in three expanded, obstetric-led maternity units with one to one midwife care to be located at Croydon University, Kingston and St George’s Hospitals with co-located midwife-led units;
· a state-of-the-art planned care centre at St Helier Hospital for non-emergency surgery for patients across south west London (kept separate from emergency care so that emergencies do not disrupt planned operations); and
· dedicated children’s assessment wards at Croydon University, Kingston and St George’s Hospitals able to provide assessment and treatment to most children with urgent health problems. For the sickest children and those requiring a longer hospital stay, specialist paediatric staff will be centralised at St George’s Hospital.
This recommendation will be considered by the Joint Boards of South West London Primary Care Trusts and the NHS London Board on 27 September and, if they agree, a public consultation should begin on 1 October.
I am obviously delighted that the review team have rejected the option of closing either the A&E Department or the Maternity Unit at Croydon University Hospital. It would have been frankly incredible for anyone to suggest that a place of Croydon's size should have a hospital without such services. I campaigned against this idea when it was considered under the last Labour Government and I would have done the same if it had been proposed under this Government.
But the review team's recommendation does more than safeguard our existing services - if implemented, it would lead to significant improvements in the form of more senior doctors in these units. There is clear evidence that concentrating the available professional staff in a particular part of the country in fewer units in this way leads to better medical outcomes.
It is important that we don't take anything for granted though. If the recommendation is approved, it is very important that as many Croydon residents as possible support the proposals because there is bound to be opposition from those who currently use the A&E Department and Maternity Unit at St Helier. I will post further on this subject after the Board meeting on 27 September.