New hospital model only goes halfway to meet local concerns
Arundel & South Downs MP Nick Herbert has said that the West Sussex Primary Care Trust (PCT) has “only gone halfway to meet the concerns of local people” in its latest hospital plans, which he said remain “horribly divisive”.
Mr Herbert was responding to the PCT's approval this week of a new model for local hospitals which the Trust says will retain Accident & Emergency departments at all three hospitals in the county - the Princess Royal (PRH), St Richards and Worthing.
The announcement was made by the PCT at a public board meeting held at Haywards Heath on Wednesday (7 May).
Mr Herbert commented: "The suggestion that A&E would be retained at all three hospitals sounded great news, and the new model is certainly better than the PCT's original proposals. But on reading the small print, there remain grounds for concern.
"It appears that A&E services at either St Richards or Worthing - whichever does not become the ‘specialist hospital' - will still be downgraded, unable to perform acute and trauma surgery and women and children's services. So some patients would have to travel to the other hospital when they do not have to do so now.
"The same thing has already happened at the PRH, where some cases are now transferred to Brighton. In spite of assurances given at the time, within three years there were new moves to downgrade its A&E department further.
"I'm glad that the PCT has now relented and will be retaining A&E services at the PRH in their current form, but the episode shows the danger of the progressive 'salami slicing' of hospital services, so that eventually the community is left with only a cottage hospital.
"I'm also very disappointed that maternity services will be centralised in the county. And it's awful that Worthing and St Richards are now being pitched against each other as we wait for the announcement on 4 June to see which one will become the specialist hospital. This remains a horribly divisive plan."
Mr Herbert added: "I continue to believe that the people of West Sussex, a large county with a growing population, are entitled to the full range of high quality local services at all three hospitals.
"I'm sure that the hospital campaigns had some effect, and health officials belatedly began to listen, but I'm afraid that the PCT has only gone halfway to meet the concerns of local people."
Notes for Editors
1. A news release from the West Sussex Primary Care Trust can be viewed at http://www.westsussex.nhs.uk/news-and-events/press-releases-2008/pr-may-2008/ae-departments-to-remain-at-all-three-hospitals/.
2. The next Board meeting of the West Sussex Primary Care Trust, to decide the location of the Major General Hospital, will be held on Wednesday 4 June at 2pm. It will be held in public (venue to be announced by the PCT).