Shake-up to take health service into 21st century
6:57am Saturday 19th January 2013 in News
THE health service in Greater Manchester could face a major shakeup as part of a review to restructure the way care is provided.
NHS Greater Manchester is leading the Healthier Together review, which aims to improve healthcare from the current system, which it says is “not fit for purpose” and was “designed to meet the needs of the last century”.
The review follows a document called A Case for Change, which said the way services are currently organised is not affordable in the future.
It stated the NHS spends £122 million on A&E care in the region every year, and 40 per cent of the attendances in casualty could be dealt with by a GP or pharmacist.
Areas under scrutiny include urgent and emergency care, acute and emergency surgery, acute medicine, cardiovascular treatment, cancer treatment, long-term conditions, women and children, and primary care from GPs.
Health chiefs want to create a system that will provide the best specialist care to everyone, which in some cases could mean at home or in the community and not in hospital.
The shake-up is thought to be similar to the Making it Better consultation in 2007, which created maternity “supercentres”, including Bolton, and led to the closure of others, including Fairfield General Hospital maternity unit in Bury.
A consultation is not expected to start until the spring.
But the review has been controversial with health unions and staff, who are afraid it will lead to the creation of some health supercentres and the break-down of some hospitals — including Bolton.
A campaign was launched after the unions became concerned the review would lead to the closure or downgrading of the A&E department at the Royal Bolton Hospital and at other hospitals across the region.
Hundreds of people attended a protest in Bolton town centre and 2,793 have signed an e-petition against the closure of Bolton’s A&E department.
Health chiefs, including Dr Raj Patel, medical director of NHS Greater Manchester, Dr Wirin Bhatiani, chairman of Bolton Clinical Commissioning Group and David Wakefield, chairman of Bolton NHS Foundation Trust, have said that there are no plans to close the Royal Bolton Hospital.
People will be able to learn more about the plans at a meeting, between 6pm and 8pm, on Thursday at the Albert Halls.
Dr Patel said Healthier Together was in its “earliest stages” and the event would give people an opportunity to hear about their “vision”.
To book a place at the public meeting, visit healthier togethergm.nhs.uk email healthiertogether@ manchester.nhs.uk or call 0161 920 9684.
■ GP Anne Talbot gives her views on Healthier Together in The Bolton News on Monday.
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