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Your spotlight on local services

Healthier Together Update


Healthier Together, the project looking at hospital care across Greater Manchester has decided that there should be four 'specialist' hospitals for A&E and high risk general surgery in Greater Manchester.

The project has looked at how to give the best quality care for some of the patients at highest risk and has decided that offering these services at every hospital isn't the best solution. They believe that having a small number of specialist sites, working in partnership with other hospitals is better for patients. They call this a 'single service model'.

There are several reasons for this decision including:

* There is a national shortage of experienced senior urgent care doctors. If you have a serious injury or illness and need urgent care, evidence shows that your chances of surviving and having the best quality of life afterwards are increased significantly if the team treating you includes the most senior experienced doctors.

* There is evidence that doctors who do the most risky procedures more often have better outcomes for their patients. For example, if you have an abdominal aortic aneurysm you're better off being operated on by a doctor who does the operation every week rather than one who only does it once a month.

So what will happen to patients?

For some patients they will be taken to one of their specialist hospitals by an emergency ambulance instead of their local hospital. We have seen figures that suggest that this is likely to be a relatively small number of people (e.g. less than 10% of 999 ambulance admissions to A&E). When they have received their specialist care and are at lower risk, they will then be transferred to their local hospital to make it easier for relatives to visit while they continue their recovery.

For some patients who are having planned general surgery (usually relating to stomach and bowels) they will have outpatient appointments at their local hospital but may have their operation at one of the specialist sites. Again they will return to their local hospital when the risk has reduced after their operation and their follow up outpatient appointments will be at their local hospital. The same doctor will see them in outpatients and carry out their surgery. Again we have seen figures that suggest this will be less than 10 patients per week in our area.

At the moment, three of the four specialist hospitals have been agreed. They are Manchester Royal Infirmary, Salford Royal and Royal Oldham Hospital. Next month the project leaders will decide which is the fourth specialist hospital.

These decisions are based on a public consultation held last summer, as well as other information about clinical outcomes, likely future availability of trained staff and transport issues.

Other specialist services run in hospitals in Greater Manchester (e.g. cancer, stroke, trauma, cardiology, etc.) will continue as usual.

Healthwatch Tameside/Oldham is working with the Healthier Together team to recruit people to Patient Advisory Groups that will give opportunities to discuss how these changes are made. We will circulate information about how to apply to join these groups as soon as Healthier Together have produced it.