Redevelopment of Lister Hospital in Stevenage faces delays

THE decision by health secretary Andrew Lansley to review all major NHS service reconfigurations will delay the final phase of the Lister Hospital redevelopment.

THE multi-million-pound redevelopment of inpatient and emergency care departments at Lister Hospital in Stevenage could suffer a serious setback after the Government announced a review of NHS service reconfigurations.

A&E and maternity wards at the QEII in Welwyn Garden City are set to close by 2012, with the services centralised at Lister.

A �150 million redevelopment of the Stevenage site is well under way, with a new day case and short stay surgery unit and a major expansion of the hospital’s maternity unit taking shape.

But the business case for the expansion of the A&E department, intensive care, operating theatres and wards is yet to be approved, and now Health Secretary Andrew Lansley has called for a review of all major NHS service reconfigurations.

He says reconfigurations must meet four criteria – improve patient outcomes, consider patient choice, have support from GPs, and be based on sound clinical evidence.

He said he wants to “put an end to the imposition of top-down reconfigurations in the NHS”, adding: “A top-down, one-size fits all approach will be replaced with the devolution of responsibility to clinicians and the public.”

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NHS organisations which have already started to look at changing services will need to ensure their plans meet the four criteria before continuing, so the business case for the redevelopment of inpatient and emergency care cannot be approved until the review is complete.

Nick Carver, chief executive of the East and North Hertfordshire NHS Trust – which runs Lister, said: “The incoming secretary of state’s requirements means there will be a delay of the business case.

“I think it’s quite right we should be able to demonstrate these things. I believe they have been apparent in everything we have done. My only concern is that any review takes place in a timely manner.” Sharon Taylor, Labour leader of Stevenage Borough Council, said: “We are very concerned to think the improvements at Lister are back under review when we went through a very long process to get where we are. I hope we are not going to be in a situation where it’s all thrown back in the air.

“The work is well under way and I hope it will stay on track. It’s much needed in the area.”

Stephen McPartland, Conservative MP for Stevenage, believes the review will not affect the Lister redevelopment if it is completed quickly.

Oliver Heald, Conservative MP for Hertfordshire North East, added: “The review is designed for more complicated situations which have arisen elsewhere in the country. Its very straightforward here, and the sooner the review is complete the better. I’m going to contact Andrew Lansley and say it must be done as quickly as possible.”

While the redevelopment of inpatient and emergency care units at Lister faces delays, “the rest will be delivered on time”, said Mr Carver.