Hospital must fight for specialist status
STEPPING Hill must fight it out with three other hospitals to get specialist status in a shake-up of the region’s healthcare.
Doctors who commission health services voted unanimously to have four super hospitals instead of five in the Healthier Together reforms.
Salford Royal, Manchester Royal Infirmary and the Royal Oldham have already been earmarked to become specialist hospitals.
Wythenshawe, Stepping Hill, Wigan and Bolton are all in the running to become the fourth specialist hospital, which will be decided next month.
The remaining ‘local’ hospitals, which will focus on planned procedures, will lose high-risk emergency surgery.
Bosses at Stepping Hill have said it is ‘crucial’ that it is granted specialist status due to its location.
Ann Barnes, chief executive of Stockport NHS Foundation Trust, which runs Stepping Hill Hospital, said: “Our position in terms of wanting to be a ‘specialist’ hospital has not changed.
“Whilst we recognise that no hospital currently meets all of the standards, we already meet a significant proportion and are very keen to be able to implement the final levels in partnership with other organisations.
“Stepping Hill Hospital treats patients from across Stockport, the High Peak and beyond and we want to ensure people can access the best emergency services without having to travel huge distances.
“It is important however to stress that no decision has been made and that the final decision will be made solely by the clinical commissioning groups next month”.
A meeting at Manchester Town Hall was told 75 per cent of the 22,451 people who completed questionnaires in a consultation last year wanted five specialist hospitals – not four.
But hospital medics said five sites would need 48 extra consultants compared with 36 extra for the four site option.
The meeting was also told four hospitals would be better value for money for taxpayers.
Doctors heard that having four hospitals would also speed up the changes, but that the process of making the switch could take up to three years.
At a series on consulta- tion meetings last year, health bosses promised no A&E departments would close but admitted some will be reduced.
If Stepping Hill is not granted specialist status it will lose its emergency surgery facilities.