STRUCTURE: A teaching hospital, whose services are threatened by a major shake up of acute care in Greater Manchester, has called for a ‘flawed’ consultation on the plan to be suspended.
The call was made in a strongly worded parliamentary briefing to the MP for Blackley and Broughton, Graham Stringer, by University Hospital of South Manchester Foundation Trust, which said it was “deeply concerned” about the process for the Healthier Together plan.
The email was sent ahead of this week’s parliamentary debate on the proposals during which they were branded a “shambles and a charade” and “unintelligible gobbledegook”.
In a further sign of political disgruntlement at the consultation process, Mr Stringer said he “did not know a single MP from the three parties represented in Greater Manchester who is satisfied with the consultation process”.
He planned to form an all-party delegation of Greater Manchester MPs and request a meeting with the health secretary.
Healthier Together has hit back at the criticisms, describing UHSM’s intervention as “extremely” disappointing.
The plan’s proposals would see a centralisation of emergency and high risk surgery currently performed across ten hospitals onto four or five sites.
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In the briefing the trust claimed Healthier Together was being incorrectly promoted as an integrated care consultation when it was “a consultation on changes to a small number of acute providers and services”.
It criticised consultation papers as “completely incomprehensible to the public” and the engagement process as “patchy”.
The briefing further alleged there was a “great deal of confusion” at the heart of the plans as a number of other reviews and programmes are being undertaken simultaneously.
It cited an ongoing review into the FT’s status as a major trauma centre and recent work “led by Monitor, the NHS Trust Development Authority and commissioners” which it claimed “recommended” a “major emergency centre” be located at the trust.
“The Healthier Together consultation chose to ignore this work for reasons which are not fully understood or transparent,” the email added.
As well as criticising the process, the briefing suggested a loss of services could put lives in danger and fundamentally threaten the FT’s future.
It argued the trust’s transport links made it “one of the best located and equipped organisations for time critical health interventions”, and claimed alternate trauma centres at Salford Royal FT and Central Manchester University Hospitals FT were in more urban locations where ambulances can get ensnared in traffic.
“This increases the risk of putting more patients in life threatening situations by not being able to access emergency care as quickly as possible,” it said.
The briefing also claimed that given its proximity to Manchester airport, contingency plans for major incidents relied heavily on the trust.
“If UHSM were to be downgraded as part of the consultation, ambulances - including air ambulances - with critically injured patients would effectively pass UHSM on route to the congested city centre locations where Salford and Central Manchester are based,” it said.
The briefing claimed that failure to acknowledge the trust as a specialist site “fundamentally threatens the future clinical, operational and financial sustainability of the trust”.
It said: “Should the consultation not conclude that the trust should remain a specialist site, it could lose its major emergency service, its major trauma service, many of its highly specialist services and UHSM’s status as a leading major acute teaching hospital trust would also come under threat.”
A spokeswoman for Healthier Together said it was “extremely disappointed” at the approach taken by UHSM which it said was “part of the governance structure” and whose chief executive was one of its three trust leads.
“Many of their lead clinicians have been present at the 80 clinical congresses to have taken place since February 2012,” she added.
“It is a shame that the concerns have been brought to our attention through a leaked letter to local MPs. We want to reiterate this is an open and transparent consultation with stakeholders and public.”
“Healthier Together is solely about single shared services in a urgent and emergency care, general surgery and acute medicine.
“It is not and never has been about cardiac, lung or other specialised services that are mentioned in the UHSM briefing to their local MPs and it is very irresponsible of the organisation to suggest this.”
22 July 2014