Fury as NHS cuts put our A&E at risk
MACCLESFIELD A&E department could be at risk as part of NHS cutbacks, it has been revealed.
A report leaked to the media shows assessments have been made of the financial benefits in down grading the emergency unit at Macclesfield General Hospital into a minor injury and illness unit to be staffed by GPs.
If the move were to go ahead it would mean that the nearest A&E departments would be in a Wythenshawe or Stockport.
Jerry Hawker, chief officer of NHS Eastern Cheshire Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG), which is responsible for the planning and commissioning of health care services, said one option includes a proposal to reconfigure A&E and other urgent care services ‘including those provided by Macclesfield hospital’.
In one section looking at ways of making cost savings, the report concludes that the downgrading of the emergency department to a minor injuries unit would result in ‘clinically and financially sustainable services with a cost saving to be determined’.
Health bosses who are looking to address the hospital’s £24 million budget deficit say that there are no current proposals to downgrade A&E services at the hospital, but admitted that there will be a review of the current emergency services which ‘may’ lead to future changes.
The move has led Macclesfield MP David Rutley to call for clear answers over the future of the A&E department. He said: “It is important that vital health services, such as Accident & Emergency services, are safeguarded in Macclesfield, and for surrounding communities that use them.”
And Cheshire East Council leader Rachel Bailey says the council will not support any plans to downgrade the town’s vital A&E unit.
She said: “While this council has been a partner with the clinical commissioning groups in some projects delivered locally, it has not, and will not support Macclesfield hospital having its accident and emergency unit downgraded to a minor injury unit.”
According to the changes considered in the document, patients with more serious conditions could be treated under the University Hospital of South Manchester NHS Foundation Trust.
Louise Shepherd, who is leading the Cheshire and Merseyside Sustainability and Transformation Plans (STP) for the NHS, said: “There are no proposals to downgrade A&E services anywhere across Merseyside and Cheshire. The STP does signal intentions in some areas to conduct reviews of current urgent and emergency care services, to assess whether there may be clinical or sustainability issues which should be addressed. This may lead over time to options being proposed to change the way some services may delivered in the future.” She added that any ideas are in the formative stage and proposals would be based on strong clinical evidence and would be subject to a public formal consultation.
The news comes despite reassurances from health bosses who ruled out the closure of key services and job cuts at Macclesfield in July.
John Wilbraham, Chief Executive for East Cheshire NHS Trust, which runs the hospital, added: “No decision has been taken to change the A & E service at Macclesfield Hospital.
“Media coverage of the Cheshire and Merseyside Sustainability and Transformation Plans (STP) has highlighted the fact that the local NHS faces significant financial and clinical challenges. To address these challenges the Eastern Cheshire Caring Together programme is looking at how future services are best configured to meet local needs and are also clinically sustainable and affordable.”
The report was leaked to the BBC.