A&E – a journey to Wexham Park Hospital

About nine years ago, Wycombe Hospital lost A&E. People tell me to get it back and I would love to.  As a democratically-elected representative, I would have already returned A&E to Wycombe if it were as simple as having the intent and making the demand.

Unfortunately, Wycombe is one of over 20 hospitals across the country which serve populations large enough to have had an A&E in the past but too small to retain one given changes to medical practice. Solving the problem of reduced emergency care in Wycombe requires solving the problem everywhere. I am working on it.

In the meantime, we have the specialist units for heart attack and stroke in High Wycombe plus a Minor Injuries and Illness Unit. On the one hand, heart attack and stroke are two of the biggest killers and if you had either in Aylesbury you’d be brought by ambulance to Wycombe not to A&E at Stoke Mandeville. On the other, this NHS advice will not be the least welcome to local parents:

Do not bring seriously injured or ill children to the MIIU in Wycombe Hospital. Take them to the nearest A&E. Children with any head injury should be taken to A&E.

So local parents will currently expect to make the trip to either Wexham Park or Stoke Mandeville with children in need of emergency care. I took that trip last Friday by car to investigate the experience and interview the Chairman of Heatherwood and Wexham Park Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust, Mike O’Donovan. Mike explains his responsibilities here:

On Thursday, the Care Quality Commission issued a report critical of the Trust: the Chief Inspector of Hospitals recommended Heatherwood and Wexham Park Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust should be placed into special measures. Find out more here.

In that context, we set out to investigate the journey and ask the Chairman what all this means for the public:

Heatherwood and Wexham Park, following Buckinghamshire Hospitals NHS Trust, has work to do if it is to satisfy the CQC and exit special measures. I am grateful to Mike O’Donovan for having the confidence and courage to be open enough to give this interview with his message to the public.

I’m glad Jeremy Hunt has put the new CQC regime in place to drive up standards. However, there is no way for the NHS to escape our requirement as local people for better emergency care in High Wycombe. My work on this will continue.

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