Public Meeting – loss of services at Wycombe Hospital

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MP Steve Baker is chairing a public meeting in Marlow on behalf of campaigners fighting to save services at Wycombe Hospital.

The meeting, at Great Marlow School, will be held on Friday October 14 from 7pm and has been arranged by the Save Hospital Services Committee – an independent group which includes politicians and campaigners from across the political spectrum in Wycombe. Health officials have agreed in principle to attend the meeting, which has been set up in response to the current NHS ‘engagement process’, called ‘Better Healthcare in Bucks’.

Several public sessions have also been arranged by the NHS as it prepares to set out new proposals later this year. These new plans, currently not formulated, could mean further radical service changes to our hospitals in Bucks. But the NHS meetings have been criticised for their format with some accusing them of asking leading questions. So the campaigners now want to hold their own meeting and ask the type of questions they believe the public would wish to pose.

Save Hospital Services warns residents to be on their guard for a repeat of the type of changes that sent shockwaves through local communities in 2004. A consultation process, entitled Shaping Health Services, led to key services being transferred from Wycombe to Stoke Mandeville in Aylesbury against the wishes of thousands of residents.

Among services that moved were the Special Care Baby Unit, emergency trauma and inpatient maternity. This has meant that almost all serious accidents are now treated in Aylesbury, and there are no more doctor-led births at Wycombe. Instead of an A&E, the hospital now has an emergency medical centre. And instead of a maternity department, Wycombe simply has a midwifery unit.

Now, campaigners fear the situation could become even worse as a result of the yet unknown changes to come later this year.

The Bucks NHS has previously stated that it favours specialisation in the county’s hospitals, but wants to retain a range of general services. “This is a warning light to us that there could be trouble ahead,” said Steve Cohen, who chairs Save Hospital Services. “We are not against specialisation per-se, but we fear this could lead to more general services being stripped away from Wycombe.”

Save Hospital Services Secretary John Barlow was present at one of the NHS engagement meetings, and he said he felt ‘leading’ questions’ were asked to get the desired answers. He said one question prompted participants to choose whether ‘quality’ of treatment was more important than the travel time involved, with quality being the obvious answer. “What we’ve all got to be a bit concerned about is the focus on the specialist complicated procedures”, he added. “The vast majority of treatments are not rocket science and they ought to be delivered locally.”

Please come along to Great Marlow School on Friday October 14 from 7pm – its your chance to have your say!

1 thought on “Public Meeting – loss of services at Wycombe Hospital”

  1. It appears that changes in the local delivery of hospital services have been implemented without any kind of public consultation; indeed, there is a statutory obligation on the Trust to engage with stakeholders prior to such changes and the Trust appears to have failed to meet this obligation.

    Mrs Eden has suggested that part of the 2004 Shaping Health Services changes implemented by the SHS Board were for an A&E Unit at Stoke Mandeville and Emergency Medical Centre at High Wycombe; this is not the outcome I recall. Mrs Eden then explained that this configuration “was recently supported by the regional trauma network that recommended ‘trauma unit’ status for Stoke Mandeville, and minor injuries service status at Wycombe Hospital”.

    During the SHS consultations, the public were repeatedly assured that an A&E unit would be retained at Wycombe and this would be of equal status to that at Stoke Mandeville. This was a basic tenet of the proposals and described by the SHS Board as a “stick in the ground”. Mrs Eden is aware that several sub-groups were formed by the SHS Board, to discuss contentious issues such as travel, maternity etc., The Emergency Care group was clear that it should “retain local emergency access” and the only dilution of service was the removal of a paediatrician from Wycombe A&E.

    The SHS Communication and Consultation Strategy Group was quite specific in its key message #12: “We intend to maintain accident and emergency services at both Wycombe and Stoke Mandeville hospitals building on our current A&E services”. Rather than building on services, it now appears that the Trust has re-interpreted the initial SHS outcomes and further reduced service delivery without public involvement.

    The Hospital Trust has a major credibility problem, mainly as a result of the SHS exercise. And now, yet again, it appears that statements made do not stand scrutiny. We do not need Mrs Eden that her predecessor gave an undertaking that clinicians had carried out a thorough, evidence based risk assessment of the maternity proposals and concluded that far from increasing the risk to women and babies the SHS proposals would make the service safer. No evidence of this has been produced and Anne Eden has refused publicly to comment. Now changes are implemented in stark contrast to assurances given.

    This SOHS group wishes to engage positively with the NHS locally and we are happy to meet with you, or your representative, to see how we can work together. However credibility issues must be resolved if the public are to be reassured that their NHS is here to serve them.

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Article author: Paul Merchant

About the author: Founded in its original version back in 2000 - yes the internet DID exist back then. Brought up in Marlow, went to school here, now has children at the same schools. Quite clearly loves all things Marlow - hence spending over 2 decades doing this!

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