Health model ‘inappropriate’

I AM writing with regarding an article which appeared in the Yorkshire Post on Friday February 24 with regard to the night-time closures of A&E at Pontefract, and the incidences we are now finding of rationing access to A&E at Pinderfields.

The article informed us that the Mid-Yorks Trust were investigating ways to reopen the facility at Pontefract, which had involved a visit of the medical director and staff to Hexham General Hospital, which, by inference, was presumably used as an example of ‘how to do things’, on which A&E could be modelled in the Mid Yorks area.

As I write this, I have in front of me the prospectus for Hexham General Hospital, and I do have knowledge of that area, and of the hospital.

Hexham is a prosperous market town serving a predominately rural population. It is approximately 25 miles from Newcastle and has a population of about 12,000.

The hospital there is modern, but is staffed mainly by GPs and nursing practitioners. There are very few consultant practitioners.

While A&E there is open 24 hours a day, this is only for minor injuries and medical emergencies. More serious injuries and medical conditions are transferred to the larger hospitals in the Newcastle area, to be transferred back to Hexham once stabilised – usually within 48 hours – for post-operative and follow-up care.

Maternity services are mid-wife-led and any which require consultant care are transferred to Newcastle.

The transfer of patients is such a frequent occurrence that the Northumberland Healthcare NHS Trust are obliged to operate a free daily transport service for relatives of patients. This is hardly a model applicable to a large urban area.

I am concerned that our NHS trust should be using examples which are not at all comparable to the district in which we live.

Ours is an urban area, with urban needs, and should have a healthcare service to match those needs.

Our local population is such that there should not be the need to travel large distances for specialist care, but there is a possibility this is what will happen, and already is to some extent.

The essence of the problem at Mid Yorks is that the trust has such a poor reputation, with the notable exception of two or three specialist services, that appropriate staff are not attracted to work in our local hospitals.

This will not be put right by considering inappropriate solutions in an attempt to manipulate public opinion.