PERFORMANCE: NHS North of England will this week consider proposals to remove accident and emergency services, acute surgery and inpatient surgery from Trafford General Hospital, health minister Simon Burns said today.
A public consultation on plans to reconfigure the hospital – known as the “birthplace of the NHS” – is expected to begin in the next few weeks.
Speaking today at a Westminster Hall debate, the minister confirmed that the consultation is expected to propose downgrading the hospital’s emergency services – as forecast in an HSJ Local Briefing in March.
“The local NHS has worked on several options for what services the hospital might offer in the future, and they’ve spoken to clinicians, commissioners and public representatives to identify the right model of care,” said Mr Burns.
“They chose a model where A&E services would be replaced by an urgent care centre opening between 8am and midnight, changing to a minor injuries and illness unit within two to three years; where acute surgery doesn’t happen there anymore, where some parts of acute medicine are removed but some remain; and where inpatient surgery no longer provided at Trafford General.”
He added that the hospital would still provide elective orthopaedic surgery, “including the development of an elective orthopaedic centre of excellence”, day case surgery, outpatients services, diagnostics and rehabilitation.
“I know that Trafford is the birthplace of NHS and where Nye Bevan famously launched the NHS,” said Mr Burns.
“But unfortunately history is not enough. Every corner of the NHS needs to be on sound financial footing so it is a viable service for years to come.”
Trafford Healthcare – the NHS trust which formerly managed Trafford General – was taken over by Central Manchester University Hospitals Foundation Trust earlier this year, after THT determined that it would not be able to make it to foundation trust status independently.
Paul Goggins, the Labour MP for Wythenshawe and Sale East, called on Mr Burns to “guarantee” that University Hospitals of South Manchester FT would receive the funding it needed to expand facilities at its own Wythenshawe Hospital if Trafford was downgraded.
Speaking at the debate, Mr Goggins said UHSM estimated that closure of Trafford General’s A&E unit would mean an extra 7,600 A&E attendances and 1,900 unplanned admissions a year at Wythenshawe.
“Currently Wythenshawe Hospital treats 88,000 people turning up at A&E in a unit that was designed for 70,000,” he said. “So you can imagine there is considerable concern at the prospect of patients numbering in excess of 95,000 were these changes to come about.”
While the tariff might pay for the treatment of these patients, the “capacity, the facilities, simply won’t be there”, he continued. “The consequence if we don’t have the added capacity at Wythenshawe is we’ll have growing queues, cancelled operations, and nobody wants to see that happening.”
He added: “The case for these added facilities is being made by the management of UHSM and, so far, frankly, the silence of the response from the Greater Manchester cluster is fairly deafening.”
However, Mr Burns said the local NHS needed to “determine for itself how best to meet the needs of local people” and it was not “for ministers to intervene at that level”.
He added that NHS Greater Manchester had approved the Trafford proposals in June, and they would go to the board of NHS North of England on 12 July.