THE future of the Royal Bolton Hospital is in YOUR hands.
Bolton NHS Foundation Trust is vying to become a “super hospital” in one of the biggest shake-ups the NHS has seen.
And hospital bosses insist we are in a “strong position” to become one of the “super hospitals”.
Chief executive of the Royal Bolton Hospital, Dr Jackie Bene, said: “The hospital has one of the best performing and yet busiest A&Es, so we have higher numbers of patients coming here who need emergency surgery.
“It is easily accessible and many patients from beyond Bolton already come here.
“Whether or not we do become a specialist centre, we will work together with colleagues in Wigan and Salford to ensure all patients receive the highest standards of emergency surgical care.”
Health chiefs across Greater Manchester say resources are not currently being spent wisely, and that people experience “some of the worst healthcare in the country”.
The proposed changes, which will see either four or five “super hospitals” created, could save up to 1,500 lives across Greater Manchester a year, according to health bosses.
Healthier Together plans to combine medical teams at all of Greater Manchester’s hospitals.
Currently people are more likely to die in the evenings and at weekends because hospitals do not have enough staff.
Healthier Together will mean hospitals share a larger pool of staff and patients are moved between specialist and general hospitals quickly.
Health chiefs have defended the £50 million spend on Healthier Together, which could vary by £10 million either way depending on the consultation response, as an appropriate investment into a system which costs £6 billion a year.
The cost of meeting the defined clinical standards at all sites in Greater Manchester, including the new specialist centres, is £23.7 million.
Healthier Together bosses could not say how much would have to be spent to make the Royal Bolton a specialist centre.
They added there is no indication they will receive any additional budget from central government to implement the changes.
Even if the Royal Bolton does not become a specialist centre, it will still have an A&E department, planned surgery and full acute medical care.
But if it gains the specialist status, it will carry out emergency and high-risk surgery for patients.
Oldham, Salford or Manchester Royal Infirmary have already been earmarked to be “super hospitals”.
A 12-week consultation has opened today to decide whether one or two more “super hospitals2 are created, and where they will be.
The options are Bolton, Wythenshawe, the Royal Albert Edward Infirmary in Wigan and Stepping Hill in Stockport.
If four hospitals are chosen, less money will be spent up front and Bolton will be in a straight fight with its three rivals.
If the option of five specialist centres is pursued, Bolton will compete with Wigan for the status.
It will cost more to convert Bolton and Wigan into “super hospitals” than Wythenshawe or Stockport.
But there would be better access to healthcare across Greater Manchester if Bolton were given the status, than Wythenshawe or Stockport, which are closer to specialist centres in Manchester and Salford.
The 12 CCGs decision will depend on the public consultation.
Dr Chris Brookes, medical director of Healthier Together and an A&E consultant, said: “What drives me as a clinician is getting reliable and expected outcomes for patients every time.
“Currently this is manifestly not true.
“At 2am in some A&E departments we will have junior doctors being supervised by a consultant. In others there are junior colleagues soldiering on alone.”
Healthier Together has spent £400,000 on the consultation process, which will see billboards and posters distributed around the region.
The Healthier Together reforms also includes changes to primary care to prevent unnecessary hospital admissions.
Cllr Cliff Morris, leader of Bolton Council, said: “We are clear this improvement in GP services and care must be up and running before the changes to hospital services are introduced.”
To complete the consultation questionnaire, visit healthiertogethergm.nhs.uk.