Just some brief points following Tuesday night’s meeting of the Bromley council Care Scrutiny Committee meeting at which Dr Angela Bhan appeared on n behalf of the Administrator, Matthew Kershaw.
We were angered by the non-appearance of the report’s author who was at a meeting in Lewisham. Dr Bhan gave some reassurances regarding the Beckenham Beacon. Dr Bhan is a member of the Bromley Clinical Commissioning Group which takes over responsibility for local primary health care provision from next April. The BCCG are looking to make better use of the Beacon, including possibly opening another doctor’s surgery. However, most people seem interested in the other services. Dr Bhan said that minor injuries and diagnostic services (blood tests and x-rays) were likely to be re-commissioned. However, we still have no assurance that they will be nor that the money is available to commission them.
The whole reorganisation of hospital admissions is underpinned by an “aspiration” that care in the community will reduce the pressure on hospital beds. But that is purely an aspiration. At a time of reducing budgets in the Health Service and in local authorities, where is that care in the community to come from? This is cart before the horse. Mr Kershaw seems to have drawn up his idealised pattern of hospital provision and then passed the responsibility on to others to make up the slack. Even if improved Care in the community is forthcoming, there will inevitably be a time lag which may well not coincide with this aim of a there year period to cut the deficit. And the amount of difference that care in the community could make seems to be purely speculation.
That takes us to our main concern regarding the future of Lewisham Hospital, the closest hospital to most of us. Currently between 70 and 75 admissions are made every day at Lewisham from the Accident and Emergency department. The report blithely reassures us that these admissions can be treated at a higher level at other hospitals at Farnborough, Kings College or St Thomas’s. These hospitals are already under strain from admissions. A report this week (Dr Foster Report) made the point that hospitals are operating at above the optimal 85% level which increases the likelihood of poor care. Yet the report does not make the case that these other hospitals can take the patients that will no longer be admitted to Lewisham once the Accident and Emergency Department is closed. The area served by Lewisham Hospital is one of increasing population and one that is relatively disadvantaged. We cannot have confidence that the proposed services will give us the emergency and acute care that we need.
There is a map in the booklet accompanying the consultation which shows the location of all the hospitals in the area. Take Lewisham out of that map and it is clear that those of us living in the Beckenham – Penge area will be left furthest away from a fully equipped A&E Department. The travel times to the other hospitals used by the consultant are wildly optimistic. And of course they take no account of travel times for relatives and friends. All in all, it still seems to us that the Beckenham – Penge area has the most to lose from these proposals and we will continue to ask for them to be amended to take that into account.