Friday 3 August 2012

Poor turnout at NHS hospitals consultation

August is a curious month to have consultations, especially an exceptional August when the borough is hosting an Olympics. I was not expecting an enormous turnout at the 'Shaping a Healthier Future' road show on Tuesday but the 6-8 members of the public (some may have been from the PR company or local GPs) who had turned up by 2.45pm at the Patidar Centre was disappointing to say the least. Advertised variously as starting at 1pm or 2pm there were no NW London NHS people at the 2-4pm Q&A until one arrived at 2.45pm. Although a table had been set up for speakers at the back of the room the public chairs were arranged around the edge of the room like a school dance. There were half a dozen laptops on a table in the corner and some panel displays about the proposals. The room arrangement served to split people off from each other.

Because I had to catch a train from Wembley Central shortly after 3pm I button-holed the clinician with my questions. I first asked about the differencee between what the Urgent Care Centre offered and the service provided by A&E. I noted that the consultation document said that most UCCs were housed alongside A&E but that Central Middlesex would not have an A&E.

I was told that UCCs would deal with most cases - it could deal with broken arms but not broken legs! I was assured that cases that had gone to Central Middlesex UCC but could not be treated there would be transferred to Northwick Park by ambulance. Clearly this poses dangers for urgent cases.

I asked how school or work place first aiders would know whether cases should go to Central Middlesex UCC or Northwick Park A&E (would there be a 'menu'?) and was told that people would soon get used to the services offered by both as the changes would not be implemented for 3 or 4 years. Ambulance usage was only expected to rise by 5% (!) and NW London NHS supported the extension of the 18 bus route to Northwick Park to serve the people of Harlesden and Stonebridge.

When I reported the difficulties that a friend had with treatment at what appeared to be an overloaded A&E at Northwick Park I was told that £20m would be spent on expanding the ward, staff would be transferred from Central Middlesex A&E and additional doctors and nurses hired.

I would be interested to hear whether there was better attendance at the evening session and hear about any discussions that took place,

The roadshow is next in Brent on Saturday September 29th at Harlesden Methodist Church, 25 High Street, NW10 from 10am-4pm.

1 comment:

Martin Francis said...

Sarah Cox wrote the following on Brent Fightback Facebook. I thought it worth reposting here:

NHS NW London identify the key challenges facing them as: an ageing population, a growing population and great health inequalities. Looking at the proposals in the light of those challenges, I think it's fair to say that the second and third provide strong arguments for maintaining and indeed reinstating services at Central Middlesex. (I'm'concentrating on Brent because that's the area I know about). Using the evidence provided by the Joint Stategic Needs Assessment, we know that the growing population in the form of large families and the big bulge of under-fives is over represented in Harlesden and Stonebridge wards, so why have maternity services, obstetrics and children's services been moved from CMH to NPH? In terms of health inequalities, average life expectancy is lower in Harlesden ward than in any other part of the area covered by NW London NHS. Substandard and overcrowded housing are at their worst in these wards plus Kilburn and parts of Willesden Green. Rates of teenage pregnancy, HIV AIDS and many other indicators of healthcare need are higher there. Emergency visits to hospital and emergency admissions are highest among patients from practices in the same area. If NHS NW London are serious about tackling health inequalities, they should provide services where the need is greatest. NPH is very inaccessible from Harlesden and Stonebridge. Car ownership is low and poverty is rife, so people needing emergency care will have to rely on the ambulance service, putting extra pressure on it. Those are the clinical arguments, there are practical financial arguments for making full use of Central Middlesex to provide a full service for South Brent and neighbouring areas of Ealing. The hospital was built only six years ago at a cost of £62m under a PFI contract which means that it will have to be paid for whether it is fully utilised or not.