Sunday, December 09, 2012

Responding to the TSA consultation

With 4 days to go, it's time to get on with completing the response to the consultation on the Trust Special Adminstrator's report that recommends closing Lewisham hospital A&E and maternity services.

Clicking on the link above takes you to the TSA's landing page for the consultation process, you need to click on option one to use the online response form, which takes you through to Ipsos MORI's online document which you complete by clicking through and filing it in page by page. Save Lewisham Hospital have a guide to help you if any of it isn't clear.

Note that the TSA's office make it quite clear that this isn't a vote (or a referendum which is a term Kershaw used in one of the meetings I attended) on the proposals and is merely intended to refine them. They even say that they will be using "a wide range of other information" as well as the responses when they are putting together the final report (which begs the question why this information hasn't been made available to the public in order to allow us to responde more fully of course....). This pretty much gives them carte blanche to ignore what's said, but that shouldn't stop all of us from putting forward our views - this is pretty much the only chance we'll get!

For Q1 and Q2 I put 'strongly disagree' and in Q3 I added the following comment: SLHT is actually performing above the national average on efficiency according to the 2012 Good Hospital Guide from Doctor Foster.

For Qs4-6 I personally have no detailed knowledge to add, or views either way, so I answered accordingly.

I strongly opposed the sale of NHS buildings (Q7 and Q8). NHS buildings should not be sold off - once this is done there is no getting them back and they may well be needed in future years.

I think that the DH should provide funds to pay off PFI debt, in the absence of a full renegotiation (which isn't being proposed) so I answered Qs9 and 10 accordingly.

On community care I have no particular opinions or knowledge and answered these questions accordingly.

Q13 relates to closing Lewisham A&E - not that you would know it from the way the question is worded - you have to work out by omission that an A&E is being lost here! I strongly opposed this option and in Q14 added the following comments: Lewisham hospital needs to retain a full admitting A&E for the following reasons:

1. One A&E to serve a population of 750,000 is not sufficient.
2. QEH is poorly served by public transport whereas Lewisham is well-served and accessible.
3. A full admitting A&E is needed to support a full maternity service at Lewisham.

Q15 is asking about Lewisham maternity services - here I clicked that I did not support either option. In Q16 I added the following: Lewisham hospital needs to retain a full maternity service, supported by an A&E. The closure of these services saves less than £17m a year, a tiny amount in the context of what would be lost if these services were to close. Lewisham deals with 4,400 births a year, expected to rise to 5,000 within three years. There simply is not space to accommodate these births elsewhere and it is essential for mothers to be close to home for visiting and for an A&E to be on site in case anything goes wrong. Expecting mothers who have recently given birth to travel long distances to visit their babies in hospital, should the situation arise that their baby had to stay in hospital and they are discharged, is simple unacceptable.

On Q17 and 18 which relate to planned care I have no opinions or knowledge to bring, so I skipped these.

On Q19 I said I had no particular views, Q20 - I tend to support the merger of Lewisham and QEH, providing this doesn't mean the loss of necessary services at either hospital. On Q21 I supported King's taking over the PRUH, on the basis that this is better than it being given to a private provider. I strongly agree with Q22, that DH should write off the debt accumulated by SLHT.

Q23 can be skipped, and in Q24 I added the following about the whole process: The consultation period has not been long enough for the full range of information to be made available to the public.

I strongly oppose cutting services at Lewisham hospital, which has been well run and managed, in order to resolve debts in SLHT. The NHS as a whole has been running with a surplus, and some of that money should be used rather than cutting essential services.

Q25 onwards asks for some information about you, which you have to answer. Save Lewisham hospital suggest that (even if it is the case) you don't say that Lewisham is your nearest hospital, or that you live in Lewisham, so that the TSA cannot portray your views as NIMBYism.

Once you've done all that you can submit your response! It takes a bit longer than the 10 minutes they suggest, even if you aren't blogging it at the same time...