Seriously ill may have further to travel


Seriously ill patients from Eastleigh, suffering from acute medical emergencies like stroke or heart attack, will have to travel further for treatment in future under proposals being considered by Hampshire Hospitals the Chief Executive has confirmed.

Plans are being drawn up to relocate major trauma services away from the Royal Hants County Hospital in Winchester to a specialist centre with good road and helicopter links. Hampshire Hospitals NHS foundation Trust say the new centre – rumoured to be at Micheldever – will be packed with the latest equipment and staffed by top consultants.

Chief Executive Mary Edwards in a statement to Eastleigh News:

“It is better for a speedy ambulance to go further to get to the right type of consultants and specialist support”

Yesterday a group of Ukip activists along with MEP candidates Diane James and Ray Finch, staged a protest outside the hospital against the plans which they say will put lives at risk and lead to closure of the hospital.

But Mary Edwards said that 85% of existing services at RHCH will remain and the hospital would continue to maintain an A&E department for non life-threatening cases and provide outpatient care and scheduled surgery.

“We propose centralising the care of the sickest in one location that would have good road and helicopter access. The aim of the plan is to enable us to guarantee there will be specialist consultants, with the right equipment and supporting teams, available 24 hours a day for patients experiencing heart attacks, strokes and major trauma as well as other high risk medical problems. This accounts for about 15% of our patient care, with patients normally arriving in a blue-light ambulance or helicopter.

“We have worked closely with South Central Ambulance and Hampshire Air Ambulance to develop our plans. We will also continue to work closely with specialist centres in Southampton and Portsmouth. When very sick patients have been stabilised they will be transferred back to Winchester or Basingstoke hospitals for any on-going care and support.

“Our proposal has been developed by senior hospital consultants, local GP leaders and other clinical leaders across the region.  These changes are being faced by the NHS across England as we all tackle the same challenge of making our services safer for the sickest patients. The Medical Director of England, Sir Bruce Keogh, has identified that there is strong evidence that providing fast access to consultant-provided care, 24 hours a day, reduces mortality and long-term problems for the sickest patients. In other words, it is better for a speedy ambulance to go further to get to the right type of consultants and specialist support.”

The trust also says it is looking at developing more services locally to Eastleigh folk but it is unclear if the existing maternity unit at the RHCH’s Florence Portal House will remain

“We will continue to provide a range of services for expectant mothers from midwife-supported delivery at home or in one of our birthing centres to medically provided obstetric care in our central location.”

A new £3.3 million outpatient centre at RHCH was opened last year amd th medical imaging department has only recently been rebuilt following a fire in  December 2011.

The front of the hospital is currently being re-landscaped for parking at a cost of £300,000.

Mary Edwards said:

“We recognise that the public will have questions and concerns about our proposals and we welcome this feedback. We will be launching a public consultation in the early summer and hope that local people will tell us their views”.

Speaking outside the hospital former Mayor of Eastleigh Glynn Davies-Dear told Eastleigh News that given a choice between Southampton or Winchester, Eastleigh folk always wanted to be treated at Winchester and warned that taking services away could lead to closure.

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