Do healthcare planners need geography lesson?

Bucks Healthcare Consultation Summary.
Bucks Healthcare Consultation Summary.

A NEW healthcare strategy planned for Bucks is “only half the jigsaw”, according to a former non-executive director of the local Primary Care Trust.

At a public meeting at Buckingham Community Centre on Wednesday night, Great Horwood resident Frank Donlan pointed out a flaw in the new blueprint for the delivery of healthcare services in Bucks.

The meeting was one of several organised by NHS Bucks and Oxon Cluster to inform people about its public consultation entitled Better Healthcare in Bucks, launched in January.

The consultation proposes the reorganisation and streamlining of hospital services. In particular, care for trauma patients will be centred at Stoke Mandeville Hospital, while stroke and cardiology patients will be cared for at Wycombe Hospital. A new specialist breast care centre of excellence will also be created at Wycombe Hospital.

More care is to be carried out in the community and hospitals stays are set to be shorter and less frequent. However, no existing hospitals are set to close.

But Mr Donlan told the speaker, Dr Geoff Payne: “All this work you’ve done needs overlaying with some geographical reality.”

He said people in Buckingham are more likely to look out of county for their hospital care, and pointed out the journey time from Buckingham to Milton Keynes Hospital is just 18 minutes.

Next nearest is Northampton at 30 minutes, followed by Stoke Mandeville at 37 minutes, the John Radcliffe in Oxford at 39 minutes and finally Wycombe at 67 minutes.

Mr Donlan told the Advertiser people should remember they will still have choice over which hospital they go to.

He said: “Anyone reading the document would think they had to go to High Wycombe and they don’t. I hope that GPs in their future role as commissioners will build relationships with surrounding hospitals.”

The public consultation closes on April 16 and changes could start to be implemented from August this year. Copies of the consultation document are available from betterhealthcareinbucks@ buckinghamshire.nhs.uk or 01494 552256.