NHS BSBV ST Helier Hospital review boss accused of 'cop out' by Sutton and Cheam MP Paul Burstow
The healthcare review proposing to close St Helier Hospital’s A&E and maternity departments will have no responsibility for ensuring community health services are improved for patients no longer expected to go to hospital, it has emerged.
The Better Services Better Value (BSBV) healthcare review has earmarked both Epsom and St Helier’s A&E, maternity and paediatric departments for closure and is reliant on more services being provided in the community.
However, according to Dr Marilyn Plant, joint medical director for BSBV, it is not within the review’s remit to have plans for community services - despite it being one of their key recommendations.
Plans for community services are the responsibility of the new Clinical Commissioning Groups (local GPs), health and wellbeing boards and the local authorities.
However, Paul Burstow, the MP for Sutton and Cheam said it was complete and utter rubbish - and was a "cop-out" that BSBV were unwilling to take any responsibility for the out of hospital care plan.
He said: "This is an incredibly slippery process and I’m shocked she’s making that claim at this stage - that BSBV has nothing to do with out of hospital care.
"I don’t think this is anything other than consolidation of services on fewer sites to create a few super hospitals."
In a filmed interview with the Sutton Guardian Dr Plant said: "There’s an element of which comes first the chicken or the egg about it. Our review has been about making acute care safer. We know that we could have much safer acute care.
"The care in the community isn’t required to consult on. We can just deliver that."
She said the CCGs had been meeting across south west London and were developing their own plans to improve the way they provide community services but she admitted they had not done very well on that in the past.
A spokesperson for Sutton CCG said their out of hospital proposals included providing a wide range of outpatient and diagnostic services in the £13m Jubilee Health Centre and helping secure £5m capital to develop the Urgent Care Centre at St Helier Hospital.
It also emerged during the interview that GP surgeries could potentially specialise in different areas with patients being able to use all the surgeries.
Dr Plant added: "That would be one way forward but that’s something that has to be discussed and worked through once we have agreed to the reconfiguration.
"It doesn’t make sense to do it all at once in some ways. Although I understand that people feel we should put the community services in place before we change the acute.
"But if we did that we simply wouldn’t pass go really because we already have hospitals that are not financially sustainable so we have to do something and we can’t just let them stay static and deteriorate year on year."
What the campaigners say:
Councillor Ruth Dombey, leader of Sutton Council, said: “At long last BSBV managers have admitted what we've said all along - that their plans are flawed and don't deal with the rising demand for good community based healthcare services and out of hours access."
Siobhain McDonagh MP for Mitcham and Morden said:"Our current NHS is not designed in the right way to treat people with long-term illnesses in their homes and in the community to keep them well and out of hospital."
“If they are now admitting BSBV is no longer about redesigning the way we treat people in the community, the only conclusion is it is about cutting services."
“Community services aren’t an add on – they’ve got to be an integral part and a plan has to be developed in parallel.”
Doris Richards, chair of watchdog Healthwatch Sutton, said: "Healthwatch Sutton is very concerned at the statements made by the BSBV representative concerning community based services, and the suggestion that none of this can be achieved until the re-configuration is confirmed."
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