Health: Huge risks’ claim

A REPORT has declared that planned NHS service reconfigurations will carry huge risks . The Comet put this concern – highlighted in a report by self-professed non-party think tank Reform – to The East and North Hertfordshire NHS Trust, in light of the de

A REPORT has declared that planned NHS service reconfigurations will carry "huge risks".

The Comet put this concern - highlighted in a report by self-professed non-party think tank Reform - to The East and North Hertfordshire NHS Trust, in light of the decision to reconfigure acute and emergency services and centralise them at either Lister or the QEII.

A spokesman for the Trust said it was not possible to comment directly on the report by Reform, because he believes the think tank has a right-wing political bias.

However, the Trust's chief executive Nick Carver said: "While we cannot comment on the Reform report specifically, with services spread thinly over two old district general hospitals, the Trust, to gain secure control over its clinical and financial future, has to do far more than just become more efficient and maximise income. It also needs to reconfigure its services so that they are provided through modern, efficient facilities.

"The new hospital in Hatfield represented that future but now that the primary care trusts believe that this option is no longer affordable, the Trust has to consider others - with redevelopment of either the Lister or QEII sites being the only viable ones available. It is that course on which we have now embarked."

The report also asserts that the failure to tackle rising costs and to invest in modern services means the long-term strength of the NHS is weaker than two years ago, despite record spending increases.

Most Read

Mr Carver said: "Back in September 2005, when the Trust publicly embarked on its current financial recovery plan, it comprised three main elements: The first was the need to be as efficient as possible, both in terms of clinical efficiency and spending less on buying services and products. The second was maximising the amount of income coming into the Trust, principally through the new national NHS finance system, Payment by Results, and the third was reconfiguration of clinical services.

"During 2006/7, the Trust was successful in making very large inroads into its financial challenges, particularly around reducing costs and becoming more efficient.

"Indeed, it has a fighting chance of meeting the financial targets agreed with the local strategic health authority - which would be a major achievement. That said, however, the Trust's recovery plan has always recognised that in future primary care trusts will be providing more services locally, with the result that only those patients who are acutely ill will be coming into hospital for their treatment. This is already happening in other parts of the country, so for Hertfordshire this is about catching up on best practice elsewhere.

"Even where patients do need to come into hospital, greater patient choice and the rising influence of GPs will mean that some people will be willing to travel further for their care if they perceive it to be better than the service provided through their local hospital.

Become a Supporter

This newspaper has been a central part of community life for many years. Our industry faces testing times, which is why we're asking for your support. Every contribution will help us continue to produce local journalism that makes a measurable difference to our community.

Become a Supporter