Update: Many thanks to the national journalists who have taken an interest in this story. As I replied to Adam Boulton earlier:
No. I’d *love* a full modern emergency department in #Wycombe. Of course.— Steve Baker (@SteveBakerHW) November 19, 2019
But please read the articles.
At each election I have contested since 2010, every other candidate has always said they will get A&E back to Wycombe Hospital. This election appears to be no different.
But Wycombe already has an NHS Type 3 A&E at the Urgent Treatment Centre. I presume the other candidates have either not taken the trouble to understand modern medicine and treatment or they are recklessly promising something they know the NHS will not provide – and will not even provide the best outcomes for patients.
Either way, this does not inspire confidence in their ability to understand public policy and give appropriate leadership on our health services.
When Wycombe Hospital was built in the 1960s, the treatment for a heart attack was bed rest. With advances in medicine, many conditions including heart attack, stroke and major trauma are now treated in specialist units. Consequently, if you have a heart attack you are now five times more likely to live.
This medical specialisation – and with it centralisation of services – has been going on for many years: this is why A&E at Wycombe Hospital shut under a Labour government in 2005. Indeed, the Labour Party candidate at that election is standing again for election today in 2019, although for a different Party.
I have chosen not to make party political points about this because the decision to centralise services and create centres of excellence was taken on clinical grounds – to improve the outcomes for patients – which must be the priority. It was not politically motivated.
However, if other candidates insist on making attractive but impossible campaign pledges, then they must be called out.
Old-style A&E departments gave peace of mind but were not able to provide the best care for all conditions. Full-scale, modern hospitals require a minimum population of about 500,000 to operate safely. With only 170,000 in the Wycombe District, this is not possible – the NHS must serve the whole of the county. We will not see Stoke Mandeville’s facilities relocated to Wycombe.
Wycombe Hospital is the local centre for heart and stroke care, two of the three biggest killers alongside cancer. Trauma is treated in Oxford. So today, if you have a heart attack or stroke in our county, you can expect the ambulance to bring you to Wycombe Hospital after you dial 999. If you suffer a serious road traffic accident you can expect to be taken to the regional trauma unit at the John Radcliffe.
This is to ensure you receive the best possible treatment and best chance of making a full recovery. This approach has dramatically improved outcomes for patients.
The Prime Minister has announced the biggest cash boost in the history of the NHS, and he is making it his immediate task to ensure people start seeing this funding in their local GP surgeries and hospitals. The Secretary of State for Health has talked about hospital upgrades and other NHS projects, and I have a public promise from him that he will come to Wycombe Hospital to discuss our Hospital and care needs.
It is time for us to go forward honestly with great modern healthcare, not make rash but attractive promises candidates cannot keep.