STRUCTURE: Heart of England Foundation Trust will consult on controversial proposals to reshape surgical services across its three main hospitals.
The West Midlands trust wants to create “centres of surgical excellence” at Heartlands, Good Hope and Solihull hospitals, with each taking the lead in providing surgery for a range of specialties.
Under the plans, Heartlands will provide most emergency surgery including orthopaedic trauma. It will also be the sole provider of planned thoracic, vascular, colorectal and paediatric surgery. Good Hope will lead on emergency and planned urology, upper gastrointestinal surgery, and bariatric surgery. Solihull will provide planned surgery in orthopaedics and ophthalmology.
Each hospital will continue to provide urgent care, antenatal and midwifery services, diagnostics and outpatient appointments. However, each site is also set to lose services (see table, below) - a proposal which has triggered local opposition.
A campaign group has formed in Sutton Coldfield to fight the planned withdrawal of services from Good Hope.
Save Good Hope’s Local Services opposed “any closures of key departments within the hospital”, claiming the transference of services to the other hospitals would force patients to travel “great distances”. The group has called for Heart of England to hold a public meeting to discuss the plans, and recently delivered a petition outlining its objections with more than 1,800 signatures to Downing Street.
Matthew Cooke, the trust’s deputy medical director, said its vision was to “create centres of surgical excellence at each of our three hospital sites in varying specialties, developing even more in those areas where they are already strong while continuing to offer core services for its local people”.
He said each hospital would remain the “first port of call” for local residents requiring acute care. Patients would only have to travel to specialist centres for operations.
The proposals would “deliver a raft of benefits” including improved patient experiences and outcomes, shorter waiting times, fewer cancellations and faster access to emergency
surgery, Professor Cook said.
They would also help the trust “increase capacity”, become “more financially efficient” and move to seven day services in its specialist teams. He said a full public consultation would begin this autumn and a final decision on the plans would be made early next year when a “timescale for implementation” would be determined.
Information supplied to HSJ