HEALTH bosses have played down fears that vital services could go from Good Hope Hospital after an official document detailing the reconfiguration of services within the Trust which runs the site was leaked to the Observer this week.
The 19-page report, entitled 'Heart of England NHS Foundation Trust (HEFT) Surgery Reconfiguration: Building a sustainable future', shows that planned and emergency (trauma) orthopaedic surgery could be lost, meaning patients would have to travel to Solihull Hospital or the Heartlands.
Ophthalmology, along with emergency and planned colorectal surgery, is also earmarked for the axe, with "no planned reduction in staffing".
In a covering letter sent with the document, undersigned by 'A very concerned member of staff at Good Hope Hospital', it highlights that three wards at the Rectory Road site could close – some as early as this September.
"The plan as we understand it is that three wards are to be lost," it says. "Ward 16 is a Colorectal Ward and this service is going to move to the Heartlands.
"Ward 14 and 15 are the Trauma and Orthopaedic Ward and the plan is to move elective surgery to Solihull in September and for Trauma and Orthopaedics to be moved to Heartlands by January 2015. Trauma patients will be admitted to A&E at Good Hope, assessed and then put back in a shuttle ambulance and moved to Heartlands for surgery. What then?
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"These patients usually stay an average of two weeks in hospital awaiting social services and home care input if they are elderly which is going to make the travelling for elderly husbands and wives very traumatic, especially in the winter months.
"The Trust is saying that this move will make Heartlands a Centre of Excellence – what about making Good Hope Hospital a Centre of Excellence?
"It would appear that there has been no consideration for the ageing population of Sutton Coldfield. The public needs access to high-quality services within our local area."
The Good Hope staff member said that only a turnaround by the Trust could save services.
"No matter how they try and gloss over it, we are losing valuable services at Good Hope," they added.
"Staff would not be in favour of the moves."
A hospital spokesperson said the focus of the Trust was 'to improve patient experience and treatment outcomes'.
"We are committed to providing our patients with safe, quality and sustainable services across the whole of the Trust," said the spokesperson.
"Our aims continue to be to improve patient experience and treatment outcomes and meet increasing demand for our services whilst delivering financial efficiency.
"We have been looking at a number of options to meet these challenges, with the intention that our three hospitals remain local points of access for our patients, providing virtually all assessment, surgery and treatment processes, although some surgical specialities will be consolidated within single centres of excellence.
"At this stage, no firm decisions have been made.
"We have already begun discussions with various stakeholder groups on an informal basis, and are planning a formal public consultation in the autumn.
"We will also be engaging with our staff to ensure their voices are heard. This consultation and staff feedback will inform the final proposal for sign off by the Trust Board."