A&E overloads and campaigns against closures – the NHS this week

South Western Ambulance VX09FYP

By Richard Grimes

Cuts

The Royal Cornwall Hospital Trust has revealed plans to make savings of £15 million this year – with £10 million of that being cut from the staffing bill. Unions say that this could mean losing up to 290 staff posts.

Health chiefs want to axe 500 acute beds across north-west London to prevent a £1 billion overspend in health and social care in the next five years. The area has already seen the closure of two A&Es and a maternity unit under a separate shake-up, which continues next month with the closure of the paediatric department at Ealing hospital.

Fifteen young people have been waiting longer than 18 weeks to get help for mental health issues in the East Riding, including three who have been waiting longer than a year.

Two GP practices in Bradford will close in September.

Cambridge and Peterborough Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG) intends to remove the entitlement of coeliacs to have gluten-free food on prescription.

In Buckinghamshire, 20 out of 97 pharmacies could close completely after cuts to government funding.

Finances

University Hospitals of North Midlands, which run hospitals in Stoke and Stafford, says its deficit for the last financial year will be almost £27 million, £10 million more than expected. This includes fines for missing government targets: £2.4 million for delays in A&E, £2.8 million for missing the 18 week target.

University Hospitals of Morecambe Bay NHS Foundation Trust in Cumbria has said it needs to save £12 million this year. “Senior figures within the organisation say the current £30m deficit could rocket to £70m within the next five years if spending continues at past levels.”

A&E Problems

There has been a slew of trusts sending out press releases asking fewer patients to attend A&E:

  • East Lancashire Hospitals NHS Trust Hospital bosses are urging the public to only use A&E in an emergency after seeing a huge increase in demand at the Royal Blackburn Hospital over the past two days. Ambulances had to queue to admit patients after East Lancashire’s only A&E department was “stretched to breaking point”.
  • Addenbrooke’s is urging people not to go to A&E unless in an emergency after the department saw near-record levels of patients turn up. Later in the week the hospital said that it had to cancel operations due to the “intensity of pressure” of the number of patients.
  • Royal Derby Hospital issued a plea for people not to come to its A&E because an “extremely high” number of people had come to the department in recent days.
  • Patients in Huntingdon are being urged to avoid A&E at Hinchingbrooke Hospital where there has been “a rise in the number of people using the emergency department this year”.
  • Southend Hospital was put on ‘black alert’ and declared it was in the middle of a critical incident because of high numbers of acutely ill and injured patients needing beds.

Campaigns

  • Nearly 2,000 people have signed a petition calling for the reopening of Garforth Clinic in Leeds.
  • More than 50,000 people have already signed two petitions in a bid to safeguard the future of Poole Hospital’s A&E trauma unit. The closure is due to the CCG’s plan to save £30 million by making Royal Bournemouth Hospital the only A&E centre in Dorset. Under the plan, Poole Hospital‘s maternity and paediatric services will also be relocated to Bournemouth.
  • Local councillors in Grantham declared plans to downgrade A&E in the town’s hospital as a “disgrace”. An online petition against the closure attracted more than 1,000 signatures in its first day.
  • A petition signed by 6,000 signatures to reinstate A&E at the Lister Hospital in Stevenage has been rejected by the trust.
  • GPs have joined forces with campaigners to fight to save a minor injuries unit under threat of closure in Hornsea. East Riding CCG also wants to close the minor injury unit at the Alfred Bean Hospital in Driffield where 2,500 residents have signed a petition against the planned closure.
  • Thousands of campaigners have vowed to fight proposals to close the walk in centre at Accrington Victoria hospital.
  • Hundreds of residents in Alston in Cumbria attended a meeting to campaign against the closure of the town’s community hospital.
  • Campaigners marched through York to protest against mental health cuts.
  • A campaign group in north Norfolk say they are worried about plans by North Norfolk CCG to close beds at Cranmer House and replace the service with a community care team. The Friends of Cranmer House said: “We’re not accepting their proposals as being practical or feasible.”
  • Darlington’s MP is calling for volunteers to join her in campaigning to protect services at Darlington Memorial Hospital after persistent rumours about the fate of A&E, maternity and ITU services.
  • West Norfolk CCG has claimed it is not responsible for consulting patients on proposed funding cuts to a group of GP surgeries in the borough. Patients’ groups have threatened to take legal action if the planned cuts are not scrapped.

Staff issues

Emergency surgery will no longer be offered to patients at Bassetlaw Hospital due to “limited availability” of doctors. Patients will have to go 20 miles away to Doncaster Infirmary for surgery.

The East Midlands Ambulance Service has been rated as “requiring improvement” by the CQC. The regulator said there were concerns over the lack of staff and vehicles needed to respond to patient needs.

Staff shortages in Lincolnshire ambulance service are so severe that paramedics don’t have time to clean the ambulances between patients.

A mental health hospital in Dartford is failing to provide proper care because of a severe staff shortage, according to one of its patients.

Privatisation

NSL, a private company that delivers patient transport services in Cornwall, has handed over the contract to another private company, E-zec Medical Transport Services Ltd.

Central Nottinghamshire Clinical Services (CNCS), the private company that provides out-of-hours GP services and urgent care services at Kings Mill Hospital in Sutton-in-Ashfield, announced that it is to go into administration. The services at Kings Mill will be taken over by another private company, Nottingham Emergency Medical Services. CNCS also provided the urgent care centre at Loughborough Hospital and these have transferred to another private company Derbyshire Health United.

Homerton hospital is considering whether to privatise its pathology services. A petition imploring the Trust to keep the service in-house has over 3,000 signatures. A local GP, Dr Nick Mann, said this will have “major implications for cost and quality”, adding that “private labs may choose to use cheaper, less accurate tests and may also increase such charges to the NHS so as to maximise their profit.”

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