Committee looks at the state of acute health services
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Today, Bucks County Council’s Health and Adult Social Care Select Committee heard evidence on the progress of the recent Better Healthcare in Bucks changes. I published my written submission here.

As I explained at the meeting, I want three big changes:

  • An injection of realism into the debate. I quoted remarks by the Medical Director of NHS England, Sir Bruce Keogh, in The Evidence Base from the Urgent and Emergency Care Review (PDF). He said:

    Twenty years ago most A&E departments could treat most patients safely and effectively by the clinical standards of the day. But things have changed. The inexorable and accelerating advances in medical science mean that treatments improve and acceptable standards continuously evolve. This means there is now no A&E department in the country that can treat everything that comes through the door. In fact, most A&E departments can no longer offer the best treatments for the two major killers – serious heart attacks and stroke – because they now require a high level of specialist expertise and technology to offer the best chance of recovery.

    I also referred to the NHS’ recent Call to Action which discusses the “future pressures that threaten to overwhelm the NHS”.

  • A vast improvement in the standards of communication by the NHS. Too many people still think they must make it to Stoke Mandeville A&E in the event of a heart attack or stroke but those important units are here in Wycombe. NHS staff on the panel agreed that a step change is needed.
  • A quantum leap in efficiency and effectiveness in using the resources we have. This too was agreed: NHS staff know the pressures they face.

I’d like nothing more than to return A&E and all the other services to Wycombe Hospital. I would have done it already if it were in my power. Unfortunately, the situation is much more complex than that.

As I said at the meeting, each area the Committee explored could be an inquiry it its own right. Local people are reliant on the Committee to meet the challenge of prioritising those issues and delving into them deeply.

I will certainly make every effort to support them. In the meantime, I look forward to Sir Bruce Keogh’s report into high mortality in hospitals, including Bucks, on Tuesday.

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