Wednesday, 1 February 2017

Tameside health campaigner condemns "wall of silence" surrounding hospital bed cuts!

We are publishing below an email that was sent by Rod McCord of the 'Tameside Hospital Action Group' (THAG), to Angela Rayner, MP for Ashton-under-Lyne, on 5 December 2016. In his email Mr. McCord refers to the proposed reduction of 246 beds which Tameside Hospital are intending to cut by 2020 - a 55% cut in current bed capacity, that will leave a remaining 203 hospital beds. He points out that there has been little public involvement and consultation in these proposed cut-backs and a "virtual wall of silence surrounding the bed cuts".

In the email, Ms. Rayner, is asked for her comments on the proposed bed cuts and if she could "ascertain from the Trust its precise intentions in respect of the retention of a full, 24-hour A&E unit" and the proposed demolition of the Charlesworth Building, which houses the maternity suites. We understand - at the time of writing - that Ms. Rayner has not replied to Mr. McCord about the matters raised in his email.

Despite the seriousness consequences that bed cuts could have for the public in Tameside and Glossop, the silence from the official authorities about this issue has been deafening. It is being claimed that the bed cuts can be compensated for by creation of five multidisciplinary care teams, working within the community. 

Although the UK average is 300 beds per 100,000 population, Tameside Hospital, would be left with 80 beds per 100,000 population. In the Irish Republic it is about 500; in Belgium its is over 650; in France it is over 700; in Germany it is over 800 and even in Romania, there is an average of 600 beds per 100,000 population.

Last November, Sir Richard Leese, the Labour leader of  Manchester City Council, told an audience representing voluntary organisations across Greater Manchester that he wanted to see ward and hospital closures across Great Manchester. He believes that many people who are currently in hospital need not be there and that their needs could be better met in other ways. 

Milton Pena, a retired consultant orthopaedic surgeon, who worked at Tameside Hospital for seventeen-years, told a public meeting held in Stalybridge last September that such a massive reduction in bed capacity would lead t0 a drastic deterioration in quality of care of patients in Tameside and Glossop and that safety, effectiveness, and patient experience, would be significantly effected.

To: ""  
Sent: Monday, 5 December 2016, 19:01
Subject: Tameside Hospital

Angela Rayner, MP

Dear Ms Rayner,

On behalf of Tameside Hospital Action Group (THAG), I am writing to you as the MP in whose constituency Tameside hospital is situated.

You will be aware that the hospital is currently in the process of becoming an Integrated Care Organisation, plans for which were outlined in a report by PricewaterhouseCoopers released in July 2015. (attached)

THAG welcomes the integration of health and social care and, in principle, supports these developments.  However, we are concerned that the plans include an unconscionable reduction in the number of acute beds at the hospital, slashing their number from 449 to a mere 203, a loss of 246 beds, that is, 55% of current capacity. (See p.14 of attached PwC report)

Although future emphasis will be upon preventative healthcare and care in the community – and, hopefully therefore, fewer hospital admissions – there is a paucity of evidence to support such a severe diminution of bed capacity. 

In the circumstances, THAG is inclined towards the view that this is a cost-driven, rather than evidence-based measure and represents a wildly over-optimistic forecast of the number of beds that can be dispensed with whilst continuing to meet the needs of the local population under the new model of care.  We believe that the hospital should not proceed with bed cuts until the ICO is up-and-running and its efficacy has been fully reviewed with the need for fewer beds convincingly demonstrated.

Additionally, the consequences of such a downgrading of the hospital for it’s A&E department are extremely ominous.  THAG was unable to elicit assurances from the Trust’s chief executive, Karen James, at its recent AGM that a full A&E unit would continue to operate;  she was only prepared to say that an emergency service would continue to be provided, raising fears that the existing unit would be reduced to no more than 9 – 5 service or an urgent care centre.

Presently, planned implementation of the ICO is quite advanced.  However, public involvement and consultation has been minimal, with a virtual wall of silence surrounding bed cuts and the future of A&E.

We would be grateful, therefore, if you could ascertain from the Trust its precise intentions in respect of the retention of a full, 24-hour A&E unit and we would appreciate your comments on the proposed axeing of 246 beds at the hospital, which includes the demolition of the existing Charlesworth Building.
We very much look forward to hearing from you in due course.

Yours sincerely,

Rod McCord (Tameside Hospital Action Group)

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