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Thames Valley patients getting 'second class service', says Dr Phillip Lee
PATIENTS in the Thames Valley region have inherited a hospital network which is ‘unfit for the 21st century’ - an MP told a meeting in Marlow.
With its abundance of motorways and railways, Dr Phillip Lee believes it’s a "disgrace" the region has no primary trauma centre - with most patients having to travel to Oxford following a major accident.
The Bracknell MP made the comments in Marlow on Friday as he presented his radical plans for a ‘super hospital’ at Junction 8/9 of the M4 motorway, in the Maidenhead constituency (see related links).
He blamed the state of the current hospital network on a lack national strategy in planning NHS services over several decades – meaning dozens of major hospitals have been built and expanded in the wrong locations in a "make-do-and-mend" approach.
Dr Lee said Stoke Mandeville was a prime example of this - gradually growing into a major acute site having starting out as an emergency military hospital in the 1940s.
Wexham Park Hospital was built in the 1960s after a farmer gifted the site to the NHS, but has always struggled to serve the population it was intended for, he added.
Asked about Amersham Hospital, Dr Lee said: "I wasn’t alone in thinking that shouldn’t have been built in the first place.... It’s a lovely facility, yet again in the wrong location. I found it inexplicable."
He believes patients in the Thames Valley are often getting a ‘second-class service’ and admitted he recently stopped his father undergoing an operation at Wexham Park Hospital, just north of Slough.
He told Friday’s meeting: "He was down to have a big vascular operation but I didn’t want my father done at Wexham Park. I got him an operation at a vascular centre....
"So why should I expect you guys to get a second class service? If you had a super hospital it could afford a vascular centre, it would be big enough."
Dr Lee argued that closing old hospitals and building new ones in better locations will save lives and improve care, adding: "The reality is if you’re sick you want to go to a specialist centre.
"When you are actually ill the last place on earth I would suggest you would want to go is a poorly staffed district general hospital."
Dad Tony Lee, 66, who lives in Bourne End, told the Bucks Free Press he ended up having the operation at St Mary’s Hospital in Paddington.
Dr Lee’s plans would require the closure and sale of hospital sites such as Wexham Park and Heatherwood, along with a further scaling back of services at other hospitals including Wycombe.
They have been described as "pie in the sky" by some, but Dr Lee insists they are realistic - adding there is a 17-acre site available in his preferred location at Junction 8/9 of the M4.
The Conservative backbencher, who is also a practising GP, went to school in Marlow and has worked at about 50 doctors’ surgeries across the Thames Valley, as well as at Wycombe and Stoke Mandeville hospitals.