Today, I am publishing a report I commissioned from Durrow: A better future for Wycombe Hospital – a proposal for a long term & successful future.
In the years since Wycombe was established as a district general hospital, healthcare demands have increased and changed while medical practice has become more specialised. As a consequence, hospitals like ours right across the country have faced a loss of services as care has centralised to preserve quality.
Changes to A&E departments have aroused the most anxiety. People need and deserve the peace of mind which comes from knowing that access to care in emergency or out of hours will be straightforward and local.
Here in Wycombe, both Stoke Mandeville and Wexham Park hospitals are simply too far away. I’ve heard good reports of our local Minor Injury and Illness Unit, but more must be done to simplify access to emergency and out of hours healthcare, while helping people to get the best care in the right way.
There have been some important initiatives across the country. For example the 2014 British Medical Journal award for the Clinical Leadership Team of the year went to the general practice consortium Haverstock Healthcare. The BMJ winners’ brochure sets out why: by establishing a GP-led urgent care centre at the front door of the traditional emergency department, almost four out of five patients received the help they needed from that unit.
Just as GPs led urgent care successfully for whoever arrived at the Royal Free, Durrow propose to combine services into a new kind of casualty unit in Wycombe. In serious emergencies, people would dial 999; otherwise, they would attend the hospital in emergency or out of hours.
Their proposals would deliver a single unit for the urgent needs of local people 24 hours a day, all year round. Ambulance crews would be co-located, playing a full role in addition to transporting those patients for whom the best care would be delivered elsewhere. Stroke and heart conditions would continue to be treated locally. The site would be renewed for the long-term. There would be opportunities for integrated care of the chronically sick.
Our hospital must have a bright future which gives the people of Wycombe the best possible care. That future must include serving any emergency patient who comes through the door. I am confident that Durrow’s proposals are a realistic basis on which to design and deliver a new generation of casualty unit within the NHS for Wycombe and every similar hospital across the country. A new and more hopeful conversation about the future of Wycombe Hospital is possible.