STRUCTURE: Senior figures in Greater Manchester’s provider sector believe Stockport is the favourite to be the region’s fourth site for emergency surgery, HSJ understands.

Commissioners leading the Healthier Together consultation announced last week that emergency and high risk surgery will be concentrated on four “specialist” sites in the city, rather than five.

Stockport

Keeping emergency surgery at Stockport would ensure there is still a service in the south of the region

Three of the sites have already been confirmed, and sources in the region’s provider sector have told HSJ that Stepping Hill Hospital in Stockport is likely to be the fourth.

Manchester Royal Infirmary, Salford Royal Hospital and Royal Oldham Hospital have already been guaranteed specialist status by commissioners.

Last week’s announcement means the remaining slot will be filled by one of Wythenshawe Hospital in south Manchester; Royal Albert Edward Infirmary in Wigan; Royal Bolton Hospital; or Stepping Hill Hospital in Stockport.

However, commissioners have also confirmed reports that bosses at Wythenshawe have been in talks about dropping its bid to be a specialist site.

They have spoken with their counterparts at Manchester Royal Infirmary, which would be the receiving site for its patients.

Sources at several trusts said this makes Stockport the likely location for the final site, to ensure there is still an emergency surgery service in the southern conurbation.

When contacted by HSJ, Bolton Foundation Trust said: “As far as we are concerned, Bolton is still in scope and would be very pleased to maintain and develop our emergency surgery service.”

It also referred to joint proposals to share surgical and medical services with Wigan and Salford, and stressed its “commitment to work together” whatever commissioners decide.

Wrightington, Wigan, and Leigh FT also mentioned the joint proposals, and added: “The decision on the number of high risk sites in Greater Manchester is quite rightly one for commissioners and we look forward to the outcome of their decision on the location of the single services and sites.”

University Hospital of South Manchester FT, which runs Wythenshawe Hospital, said: “Healthier Together asked providers to look at how they could best deliver single services to improve quality and safety standards across hospitals and the trust has submitted a provider view.”

Stockport FT chief executive Ann Barnes has previously stressed that patients in rural areas of Cheshire and Derbyshire would be unable to reach a specialist centre by ambulance within the time limits set by Healthier Together if Stockport’s main site did not retain emergency surgery.

A spokesman for Healthier Together said no decisions have been made and “the provider view is just one of those that will be taken into consideration”.

He added: “A lot of people have different views on how things will pan out, but there’s not a done deal.”

A meeting on 15 July will decide the fourth specialist site.