I know that almost everyone living in High Wycombe would like to see A&E at Wycombe Hospital so I recently met Professor Jonathan Benger who is the National Clinical Director for Urgent Care for NHS England.

Professor Benger is the most senior clinician to advise the NHS on accident and emergency services in the country. He has extensive experience of pre-hospital care, led or collaborated on many grant-funded research projects and authored a number of peer-reviewed publications. Professor Benger has previously chaired the Clinical Effectiveness Committee of the College of Emergency Medicine. As National Clinical Director for Urgent Care for NHS England, Professor Benger is responsible for leading on the best way to achieve effective and safe urgent care across the country.

Most importantly, Professor Benger’s views are impartial and based on clinical evidence. I invited Professor Benger to visit Wycombe Hospital, view its facilities and give me an independent view on whether it would be possible to have A&E returned to the hospital and how best to proceed.

On Friday 22nd September 2017, I was privileged to show Professor Benger around Wycombe Hospital along with senior NHS staff. We spent time in the heart and stroke wards, toured the MIIU and the multi-disciplinary medical day unit. After the tour, Professor Benger reflected on what he had seen and you can watch the video of our conversation here.

Professor Benger explained:

  • There have been dramatic advances in medicine since Wycombe Hospital was built with an Accident and Emergency Unit in the 1960s. Life expectancy has increased and modern medicines have changed the way doctors treat important diseases.
  • When our hospital was designed to have an A&E, the treatment for heart attack was six weeks bed rest, now patients can take advantage of stenting going home in a couple of days. In the past, there were no real treatment for stroke. Now there are clot busting treatments and good rehabilitation programmes. There is also now better care for sepsis and cancer.
  • Bringing back a full scale A&E to Wycombe Hospital would not be practical.
  • Regional centres for excellence will continue to use modern medical techniques to treat complex conditions such as heart, cancer and stroke, while urgent care is delivered locally.
  • Urgent Treatment Centres play a critical role in delivering urgent care close to home. Urgent Treatment Centres will provide nearly all of the treatments people would expect in an A&E.
  • National NHS guidance ensures Urgent Treatment Centres are continuously open for extended periods of time, led by GPs, nurses and other health professionals, and linked with other NHS departments including mental health, physiotherapy and pharmacies, as well as specialist centres.
  • Wycombe is a growing town and is a good place for an Urgent Treatment Centre

An Urgent Treatment Centre would allow us to get the vast majority of the urgent treatment that we need in Wycombe without having to travel to different hospitals. On the one hand, the interview confirmed my understanding that modern medicine means Wycombe will not see the return of an old-style A&E but, on the other, today our life chances are much improved through the delivery of far better treatment.

I will continue to work with our local NHS leaders to ensure that an Urgent Treatment Centre is opened at Wycombe Hospital as soon as possible.

The press release is here: Benger Press Release 091017.

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