The advice from the NHS Confederation is that some A&Es should close in order to make those that remain more efficient. Your life may be saved if you go to a casualty that has all the right resources. As you may have read in previous blogs, my preference is for local casualties that can treat most things but it may well be the case that local A&Es will close. If they don't then at least your local trust should be considering this option, if only to be seen to be following the Confederation's advice.
According to my local paper the Lancaster Guardian, 'University Hospitals Morecambe Bay Trust (UHMBT) has launched a review
of services with details expected in March, followed by a public
consultation'. I really don't agree with this particular closure but the review is the sort of action that UHMBT had to take.
The fight to save Lancaster's A&E was taken up by the Morecambe MP who asked the Secretary of State for Health if closure was on the cards What was the answer? It must be embarrassing for the MP to discover that the answer was a matter for 'the local national health service'. He doesn't seem too bothered, though, as he wrote a tweet about it. Once he was pointed in the right direction he then asked UHMBT's chief executive, Jackie Daniel to allay fears of closure. Part of the reply was 'whilst it would be wrong of me to second guess the future, I personally find it hard to imagine Lancaster not having emergency services'. I would agree with that but that's what they said in Burnley before their casualty closed.
Jackie goes on, 'Let me be clear, we do not have any plans to shut the Accident and Emergency department in Lancaster. We are deeply concerned that these continual rumours are undermining confidence and frightening the public'. The trouble is that this trust has a duty to look at the option of A&E closure because of the specialised resources that are needed (or at least that's how Burnley's closure was explained). East Lancashire Hospitals NHS Trust did not get this message across very well to the public and Morecambe should, at least, be setting out an explanation for possible closure as one option even if it doesn't involve Lancaster.
The Morecambe MP claims "from start to finish this has been a scare story with no factual basis. At the debate tomorrow (which is now today), I will be asking John Woodcock MP why his party (Labour) have chosen to make up lies about the A&E provision that are completely unfounded ... I do not approve of anyone playing party politics with the health of my constituents ..." Personally I am not keen on an MP who asks questions to the wrong person, when he gets the right person settles for an inadequate answer, and then makes accusations based on that answer.
The original Lancaster Guardian story makes it clear that it was the University Hospitals Morecambe Bay Trust (UHMBT) itself which launched a review of services, not the government. Maybe the government does have some say in the matter, and maybe the Secretary of State's answer was incorrect in some way, but then shouldn't the Morecambe MP have been more challenging in his questioning? He wasn't, though. I hope my MP can clarify what he means by " his party have chosen to make up lies" and "playing party politics".
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