Editor's note: See below
A LEADING Buckinghamshire GP has welcomed proposals to build a regional ‘super hospital’ - but said there are concerns about the impact it would have on Stoke Mandeville Hospital.
Wycombe GP Dr Annet Gamell, of Chiltern Clinical Commissioning Group, was reacting to proposals from a Berkshire MP to build a new hospital at Junction 8/9 of the M4.
At a meeting in Marlow on Friday, Dr Gamell questioned what would happen to the current Buckinghamshire hospital buildings created by private finance [PFI] which have "very long payment terms".
She added Stoke Mandeville is already a centre of excellence and relies on thousands of patients from Wycombe using its services.
She asked whether a new hospital would also have to be created in north Bucks, but added: "I’d like to say how much we welcome the proposal and the debate and discussion... [we] haven’t made our minds up either way."
The radical plans have been drawn up by Dr Phillip Lee, MP for Bracknell.
Responding to Dr Gamell, he suggested there are ways to 'buy out' PFI contracts, saying Stoke Mandeville is not an appropriate location for a major hospital because the transport links are "frankly not good enough... it’s just not in the right location".
He added there could be an argument for combining the Aylesbury and Milton Keynes populations when organising hospital services in the north of the county, but said: "It needs a national plan to centralise the location of hospitals. I wish that had been done or was ongoing now."
Paul Henry, also of Chiltern CCG, said Dr Lee’s proposal sounds like a "really good idea", but fears "the spectre" of it could hold up progress already being made to centralise services.
But Dr Lee replied: "I intentionally stuck this out there to stir this up and cause trouble. I understand it causes difficulties, but I’m sorry, it was about time these difficulties were caused....
"There’s never a sense of strategy, it’s just make-do-and-mend. That’s what they are doing at Heatherwood and the system is creaking.
"I don’t make any apology for putting a spanner in the works and challenging decisions that were made in the past - they were the wrong decisions."
Following publication Dr Gamell has asked us to clarify that she welcomes the 'discussion and the debate’ around the proposal, rather than the proposal itself.