Super hospital decision a 'threat to patient safety', warns MP

Wythenshawe Hospital ward
Image caption MP Graham Brady said Wythenshawe Hospital in Manchester was a better choice than Stepping Hill

A Greater Manchester MP has called for an urgent review following a decision to make Stepping Hill Hospital the last of four "super hospitals".

Healthier Together - a review by NHS leaders - promises increased consultant cover at four Greater Manchester hospitals.

Graham Brady said Wythenshawe Hospital should have been chosen and downgrading it "poses a threat to patient safety".

The review team argued the changes will result in "faster and better care".

Under the review, Stockport's Stepping Hill will become a specialist hospital along with Manchester Royal Infirmary, Salford Royal and Royal Oldham.

An extra 35 consultants are to be recruited across A&E and general surgery providing at least 12 hours of cover a day in A&E seven days a week at the so-called "super hospitals".

Staff worried

Wythenshawe, the Royal Bolton and Royal Albert Edward Infirmary in Wigan were also considered.

Mr Brady, Conservative MP for Altrincham and Sale, said: "Wythenshawe Hospital is an outstanding acute hospital providing some world-leading services.

"Senior clinicians at Wythenshawe have told me that the downgrading of the hospital poses a threat to patient safety and that removing general surgery will slowly kill the most important acute services.

"Wythenshawe is a centre of excellence and should be improved further not downgraded."

Image caption Doctors chose Stepping Hill Hospital unanimously on Wednesday

Mr Brady denounced "poor" consultation and said the decision-making process was "flawed".

Manchester City Council also criticised the move and said "the choice of Stockport as the fourth specialist site is the wrong decision" but "we will work with NHS colleagues to make the decision work."

Council leader Richard Lees said: "The council has consistently made the case for University Hospital of South Manchester (UHSM) as a specialist hospital, based not simply on geography but also on the strength of its clinical outcomes which are far superior to those of Stepping Hill."

The consultant surgeons will also operate at hospitals which are clustered with each of the four specialist hubs.

Long journeys

Critics have raised concerns about patient travel times.

Amy Barringer, from the Unison union, said: "We are going to see people from Wigan, Bolton and Wythenshawe driven past their own local hospital into Greater Manchester and Salford."

"Those few minutes of being in heavy traffic, making long journeys, from some of the outer parts - that does worry staff."

Dr Ranjit Gill, from Healthier Together and chief officer of Stockport Clinical Commissioning Group, said it was not about the interests of one hospital over another or saving money.

"It is about investing to recruit more staff and make hospitals collaborate rather than compete at the cost of patients lives.

"There is a place of safety transfer time of 20 minutes from the nearest hospital and then if from there it is determined you need the specialist skills you will be taken by blue light ambulance to the nearest specialist centre.

"So actually people will receive faster and better care."

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