Concern in Rutland over plans to transform acute NHS hospital services in Leicester
Rutland could become a ‘health desert’ if plans to transform hospital and maternity services in Leicester go ahead.
That’s according to Rutland Health and Social Care Policy Consortium, which monitors health issues in the county.
The group says the planned removal of around 500 acute care and maternity beds at Leicester General Hospital means Rutland residents will have to travel further.
There are also plans to relocate the midwifery-led unit at St Mary’s Hospital in Melton Mowbray to Leicester General, which would become a ‘health campus’ for non-acute services.
The consortium is also concerned for the future of Rutland Memorial Hospital and believes health chiefs could be looking to close it.
A spokesman said: “Rutland could become a ‘health desert’. It is not surprising, therefore, that people are very concerned there is an unstated hidden agenda to close Rutland Memorial Hospital alongside the removal of acute and specialist services.
“The local hospital at Ashby was closed six years ago but the promised alternative services were still not in place at the beginning of this year and we fear Rutland Memorial could be next.”
He added: “It is high time plans were prepared for services in Rutland and Rutlanders should demand them in compensation for the huge losses proposed in this consultation.”
The Mercury has approached health chiefs for a comment on the future of Rutland Memorial Hospital.
NHS clinical commissioning groups (CCGs) in the area are currently undertaking a public consultation into the Leicester hospitals plan, which they say would see an investment of £450 million.
It is expected that the reconfiguration of services will save the NHS around £48 million. There is not expected to be any major increase or reduction in staffing.
Developments would include:
- 139 new in-patient beds
- A major planned care treatment centre at Glenfield
- Two new super intensive care units (ICUs) with 100 beds across the two sites - doubling current capacity
- A dedicated single-site children’s hospital at the Royal Infirmary - the first in the East Midlands
- Development of a new maternity hospital at the Royal Infirmary site
- Extra car parking across the sites
But the consortium says the proposals would “cause severe disadvantage to Rutland residents” and is urging them to make their voices heard.
Consultation documents state that around 30 per cent of patients would see their journey times increase under the transformation proposals.
The spokesman said: “The plans admit that 100 per cent of Rutlanders will be disadvantaged by these proposals because of reduced accessibility. Travel times will be increased, public transport and parking may be more difficult.
“There are no plans to retain and improve local services for Rutland to compensate for these losses.”
Andrew Furlong, surgeon and medical director at University Hospitals of Leicester NHS Trust, said the move was needed as currently services are spread too thinly across sites which include old and impractical buildings.
“These proposals will help us to offer the highest quality, state-of-the art healthcare services that patients deserve, and fit for future generations,” he said.” Importantly, these changes would enable us to separate emergency care from the care arranged in advance for our patients, helping to prevent treatment being delayed or cancelled when emergency services are busy.”
Caroline Trevithick, executive director of nursing, quality and performance for the Leicester, Leicestershire and Rutland CCGs, added: “We would encourage everyone – members of the public, patients, carers, staff, public and patient representative groups, and anyone with an interest in the health and care of local people – to find out more about the proposals and complete the consultation questionnaire.”
* There are a number of ways in which people can find out more and have their say, including a number of online events. The full consultation document and questionnaire survey are available at www.betterhospitalsleicester.nhs.uk
Versions of the consultation document are available in 11 languages as well as in easy read, video, British Sign Language and large print.
Further information about the proposals and how to comment can also be obtained by telephoning 0116 295 0750 or emailing beinvolved@LeicesterCityCCG.nhs.uk