Hospital plans ‘won’t make locals worse off’

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High Peak patients will not be disadvantaged if they have to travel to Manchester for emergency surgery in the future, a local GP has said.

Dr Debbie Austin, who is also a member of the governing body of the NHS North Derbyshire Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG), said it was vital that residents had their say on the Healthier Together programme, which is looking at which hospitals across Greater Manchester should continue undertaking emergency surgery.

As part of the consultation, Stockport’s Stepping Hill Hospital, which is used by many High Peak residents, could lose its emergency surgery facilities, meaning locals would have to travel into Manchester.

Dr Austin said: “This is very much clinically driven. The main purpose is to drive up clinical standards across the Greater Manchester hospitals.

“I do worry there has been a bit of scaremongering out there. Healthier Together isn’t about closing down hospitals, it’s about raising standards.

“The problem for our population is that we don’t have as good access to hospitals as the rest of Greater Manchester do in the first place so any change in services will potentially have more impact on us than it does on anyone else. Yet we don’t have a vote on it which is why it is really, really important to have our say in the public consultation.”

She added: “The medical evidence that I have heard shows that once you’re actually in an ambulance any extra travelling time doesn’t have an adverse impact. In actual fact, it might be more favourable to go to a specialist hospital where they have got all the consultants so from the clinical side it should be better because of that.”

Dr Austin added that the consultation document didn’t have any details of the High Peak’s transport network and travelling times so the CCG are working on pulling some information together to feed into the consultation.

A public meeting on the plans is taking place at the Octagon, Pavilion Gardens, Buxton, on Monday September 15 from 6pm to 8pm.

More details, and a questionnaire, can also be found on the Healthier Together website at www.healthiertogethergm.nhs.uk.

Glossop residents can also have their say on the plans at a Question Time-style debate in Hyde tonight (Thursday).

Hosted by the Manchester Evening News, the event is being held at Hyde Clarendon Sixth Form College from 7pm to 8.30pm and will see a panel of experts being questioned about the plans.