Diary of a Sutton Councillor

Thursday 16th April 7.30pm

Merton, Sutton & Surrey Joint Health Scrutiny Committee

The main items on tonight’s agenda were updates on the Women & Children’s review; the Better Healthcare Closer to Home programme and the Epsom & St Helier Management Review.

The Women & Children’s review was looking at the provision of maternity and paediatric services between Epsom & St Helier hospitals. The issues determining this review have been mentioned in some detail in previous postings. The committee was advised that discussions were taking place between St Helier & St Georges Hospitals regarding joint staff training; joint and rotational posts and shared learning & governance. Discussions were also looking at centralising acute paediatric care at St Georges Hospital.

 I asked for clarification about the paediatric care currently provided at the Queen Mary’s wing of St Helier. I was informed that paediatric trained surgeons only performed elective surgery: the on call surgeons & anaesthetists at St Helier were not trained specifically to operate on children.

 I also asked about capacity to take additional patients at St Georges including the facilities for the hospital to accommodate parents who wished to stay with their children. I was advised that there was capacity and facilities for parents, however it was expected that once emergency procedures had been performed and the patient stabilised then the child would be transferred to St Helier or their local hospital for recovery.

 There was discussion about how the decision on where and when to transfer patients to St Georges rather than St Helier would be made. This still required further work and discussion with the ambulance service.

 I gave my opinion that parents generally preferred to see their children receive specialised care and as was the case with the Great Ormond Street Hospital were usually prepared to travel to receive that specialised care. However what was important here was that the care received would be better, and that facilities for parents to stay with their child in hospital were of increased importance when that hospital was further away. It would also be necessary for it to be made very clear to the public precisely which services were being moved, and highlighting that general emergency paediatric facilities would still be available at St Helier.

 The Better Healthcare Closer to Home update advised that the outline business cases had been accepted but NHS London had requested the programme looked at ways of reducing the cost of the St Helier scheme by combining the Phase 1 and Local Care Centre developments into a single building. I requested more detail about how this would be effected and was advised that by combining the two buildings into one there would be infrastructure savings for example on heating and roofing.

 The current timetable for implementation of the various programme elements were given as Shotfield: 2 years from August; Merton 4 years and St Helier construction to begin around 2012 with estimated completion around 2016.

 Item seven on the agenda concerned the availability of Epsom & St Helier Board papers. A complaint had been made by a member of Links that the chair of the board was no longer willing to make the papers available to non board members in advance of the meetings which it was felt reduced the ability of the Links members to perform their function and follow the proceedings at the meetings. The chair of the board John Davey was present and made his case that the meetings were not public meetings but meetings held in public. The committee did not feel that this was satisfactory reason to not make the papers public as local authority meetings operated under similar rules and made their papers available to the public at the same time that they were made available to committee members.

 The Epsom & St Helier Management Review was considering splitting the two hospital trusts into separate managing bodies. The committee was advised that the anticipated date for delivery of the project of March 2009 had not been met and the review had of necessity to go back to basics. It now looked like being completed towards the end of April.

 I asked how much had been spent on the review to date, how this compared to the budgeted spend and estimated further costs associated with the additional work required. I wanted this information as reassurance that costs were being managed and being kept within reasonable parameters.

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May 18, 2009 - Posted by | Committee Meeting

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