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.

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