Local Hospitals

Five years ago the future of our West Sussex hospitals was under considerable threat, with the prospect of Accident & Emergency services being downgraded.

But the voice of local people was eventually heard and services were preserved by forming a single new trust, combining Worthing, Southlands and Chichester hospital sites under the same leadership, and at the Princess Royal, which is already part of the Brighton trust.

We need to make sure that, despite the financial challenges, services are maintained and enhanced across the County.

So on Monday I was very pleased to learn that Worthing Hospital has gained accredited Trauma Unit status following St Richard's, who received theirs in April.  These units provide emergency care for all but the very most seriously injured.

They also provide ongoing treatment and rehabilitation for patients once they have been discharged from the major centre, enabling them to access the services they need much closer to home.

This status is a good sign.  Another is the recently published Care Quality Commission report into Worthing Hospital which was very positive.  And I experienced the high quality of care at St Richard's myself a year ago.

I'm also pleased that the Western Sussex Hospitals NHS Trust - which runs St Richard's, Worthing and Southlands hospitals - has recently won the support of the Secretary of State for Health in its bid to achieve NHS Foundation Trust status.

This is another important step forward.  Becoming a Foundation Trust will help to strengthen our local hospitals at the heart of our communities and ensure that they continue to provide the highest standards of care.

It will allow the Trust greater freedom to set its own priorities and give its patients, staff and local community a stronger voice in deciding how its services should develop in future. 

Other health reforms will mean that our local GPs - the people who know our health needs best - will now be in charge of commissioning local services, rather than the Primary Care Trust which has been abolished.

Our local GPs are already establishing the Clinical Commissioning Groups which will lead the NHS of the future.  On Friday I will be meeting GPs in Henfield, and I look forward to discussing these developments with them.

Christopher N Howarth