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Health chiefs respond to council concerns over Wycombe Hospital changes
HEALTH chiefs have responded to a council’s concerns over planned changes to Wycombe Hospital – though some questions remain unanswered.
Buckinghamshire County Council broadly supports the removal of several specialist services from Wycombe Hospital, but called on the NHS to publish more evidence and documentation before giving its full backing.
One key demand was for health chiefs to "provide written assurance that local GPs are aware of these proposals and agree that they would be in a position to contribute to the reduction in numbers of people self-referring to A&E."
The plans indicate that thousands of patients are attending Wycombe Hospital’s former A&E ward unnecessarily, and they could be dealt with by their GP instead.
In responding to this request, the NHS Buckinghamshire & Oxfordshire Cluster did not state whether doctors are in agreement on this point (see related links for full response).
It replied: "GPs are aware of the proposals and have been copied the service specifications for comment."
In a later response, it says there are ten GP practices in the Wycombe area with the capacity to take new patients, and a meeting was being held to discuss the issue.
Meanwhile, the council wants the impact of the changes to be closely monitored with results regularly made available. The Cluster has promised this information will be made public.
However, in March the Bucks Free Press asked health chiefs to publish evidence of patient outcomes for maternity and trauma, which have already been centralised at Stoke Mandeville.
If the evidence points to improved patient outcomes, this would provide a powerful argument in favour of the current changes.
But Buckinghamshire Healthcare NHS Trust, which controls the county’s hospitals, has still not provided this information.
On another issue, officials have asked for more time to answer questions about Wycombe's former A&E ward, which is set to be further downgraded in the plans.
The Cluster said: "It is not possible to give more detail while clinical discussions are taking place and the model is still in development."
See related links for more details on the plans.