No threat to A&E say MP, Trust and minister
SOUTHPORT Hospital and its A&E department will remain and are not under threat, say the Government’s health minister, the town’s MP and the local hospital trust chairman.
Health Minister Philip Dunne, Southport MP Damien Moore and Southport and Ormskirk Hospital Trust chairman Richard Fraser made the joint announcement responding to recent claims that the hospital’s future was under threat.
It had also been suggested in a draft Sustainability and Transformation Plan (STP) for Merseyside & Cheshire that the A&E could face reduced hours or begin to refer some of the most serious cases to Whiston and others.
However, this proposal – which also raised the same possibility for other hospitals across Cheshire and Merseyside – was dropped from the final document and Mr Moore and Mr Fraser have moved to reassure residents no changes are currently planned.
Many in the town have feared for the hospital’s services being further reduced since the maternity department and children’s A&E were closed in 2004.
Mr Moore, who was elected in May, recently met with health minister Mr Dunne to discuss Southport Hospital and its future and has slammed suggestions it could close as “nonsensical”.
Mr Fraser said that he had heard no official plans or proposals to downgrade A&E services and he could not foresee the town not needing a 24-hour A&E.
Conservative MP Mr Moore added that any future changes to the hospital’s services would be made by medical professionals rather than politicians based “on the basis of patient safety”.
He said: “I understand there are a number of concerns surrounding the hospital. The Trust has faced a number of severe pressures on several fronts. The most immediate and pressing one being able to find a long-term chief executive who will provide stability.
“This real issue, however, has only been sidelined by a number of unhelpful and misleading suggestions as to the long-term future of Southport Hospital.
“I want to make it perfectly clear: Southport Formby District Hospital will remain open; the urgent response centre will remain open; and residents will continue to receive first-class health care.
“Whilst I understand the Trust has recently come to a decision to establish a clinical senate, led by medical professionals, to decide how they may better deliver key services, there’s never been a suggestion that the hospital would close. In fact, it’s rather the opposite.
“The Trust will continue to work with local authorities and the Government to consider how they will deliver services in the long-term, whilst working with neighbouring hospitals to provide the best quality care available, including the prospect of enhancing key services in Southport.’’ The MP added: ‘‘All hospitals are subject to a review to determine the safety of their services and the quality of care they are providing; therefore, the suggestion that Southport Hospital needs ‘saving’ is nonsensical and misleading. All public bodies are required by regulation to hold periodical reviews.
“Furthermore, should the hospital propose any considerable change to the way it operates in the future, I wish to reassure the public that those changes can now only be brought about by experienced medical professionals – not beauracrats or politicians – and on the basis of patient safety.
“The future of Southport Hospital has never been more clear.”
Mr Dunne said: “Political scaremongering in the run-up to an election will have caused immense stress to the people of Southport. This damages confidence in clinical leaders and under- mines efforts to recruit and retain clinical staff.
“While there may be changes in the future, brought about by advice from experienced medical professionals, it is categorically wrong to suggest the hospital or emergency services are at risk of closure – I am aware of no such proposals.”
Trust chairman Richard Fraser said: “No proposal has been discussed by, or presented to, the Trust board about either closing emergency services or reprofiling their hours since I have been chairman. The board will consider the outcome of the system review as it emerges.
“No Trust is an island and no organisation can categorically rule out the potential for change in the future. However, I cannot currently foresee a situation where 24/7 emergency services will not be needed in this health economy.”
Above, A&E at Southport hospital has never been under threat says Trust chairman Richard Fraser