They say that one swallow does not make a summer but here is an interesting answer by Jeremy Hunt to a recent Parliamentary Question:
Jason McCartney (Colne Valley) Con: “On this important issue of A&Es, does the Secretary of State agree that it makes no sense at all for my local clinical commissioning group to be bringing forward a business case to spend an extra £300 million on bulldozing Huddersfield Royal Infirmary and downgrading our A&E?
Mr Hunt: ” I recognise the very strong arguments my hon. Friend makes and the strong campaigning he does on behalf of his constituents. We are waiting for the final recommendations to come from his local CCG, but I agree that too often we have closed beds in the NHS when we do not have alternative capacity in the community and we need to be very careful not to repeat that mistake.”
In North West London we have been constantly told since 2012 that having 5 acute hospitals in place of 9, with care shifting to the “community” and 4 full A&E Departments disappearing, would be better for patients and for the budget. Now nearly five years on from the publication of the ill-fated plan, Shaping a Healthier Future, we have lost 2 A&Es plus the maternity department and paediatric services at Ealing. A&E waiting times are among the worst in the country and pressure on acute beds is unremitting.
It’s not just that we don’t see the promised shift to community provision, at any rate in Brent. We don’t see how enhanced GP services, which the public would be delighted to have, can substitute for what goes on in operating theatres or in wards where unstable conditions need constant monitoring and adjustment of medications. The public do know that resources are not infinite but they want an honest clinical narrative about where the NHS is heading. We wish that our current Sustainability and Transformation Plan provided the answer but it doesn’t.