STRUCTURE: One of the largest acute trusts in the Midlands has begun a review of surgery and inpatient services across its three sites, with a view to ensuring their long term clinical and financial sustainability.

Heart of England Foundation Trust’s leadership has in recent weeks been considering the merits of three options to centralise some services. However the proposals have caused alarm among some clinicians at the trust’s Good Hope Hospital in Sutton Coldfield, as they could see that site losing some specialisms.

The options are:

  • Solihull Hospital providing elective orthopaedics and ophthalmology, with Heartlands Hospital in Birmingham focusing on elective colorectal and general surgery, along with all trauma, emergency and paediatric surgery. In that scenario, Good Hope would take elective urology and upper gastrointestinal and bariatric surgery. Or;
  • Elective colorectal and general surgery housed at Good Hope, with emergency surgery split between Good Hope and Heartlands.
  • A third option, which would have moved day surgery onto one site, has been rejected by the trust’s leadership.

HSJ understands that trust leaders could eventually agree a hybrid solution incorporating elements of the first two options.

The trust is currently analysing each site’s beds and operating theatre capacity in order to identify which configuration should be adopted.

Leaders say they see outpatient services, day surgery and diagnostics as “local” services and do not currently plan to centralise those. There is currently no suggestion from the trust that Good Hope’s accident and emergency unit will close.

But according to the Sutton Coldfield Observer, clinicians at Good Hope Hospital are concerned that losing surgical and inpatient services will lead to the site becoming “just a medical unit” and will “slowly close down over the next few years.” There would also be increased journey times for the residents of Sutton Coldfield, Lichfield and Tamworth, the paper reports.

Heart of England chief executive Mark Newbold told HSJ: “We’re not interested in running two hospitals instead of three.

“We’re trying to ensure we don’t duplicate inpatient services so it would lead to two weaker services. We’d rather have one stronger one.

“We’re trying to focus the purpose of the three hospitals, to get a consistent and viable layout of our specialist services.

He added that clinical and financial sustainability were closely linked.

Heart of England already networks its vascular services and complex cancer surgery.