Four MPs representing Burton, East Staffordshire, and South Derbyshire, have gathered to urge the public to get on board with the campaign to save Burton’s accident and emergency department. Burton could lose its A&E department according to plans released by a county-wide review board looking into how money can be saved on Staffordshire’s health bill while making treatment more efficient.
The Sustainability and Transformation plan has highlighted the pressures and challenges ahead for the NHS across Staffordshire over the next five years. Within the plan it notes the intention to ‘simplify the urgent and emergency care system’ to improve waiting times. It notes that an option to do this would be to change one of the three A&E departments in the county into an urgent care centre.
Urgent care centres provide treatment within set hours as opposed to a 24-hour service. The three departments under consideration are at Burton Queen’s Hospital, Royal Stoke and the County Hospital in Stafford.
Burton MP Andrew Griffiths, who now has 9,000 signatures added to his petition to save the department, South Derbyshire MP Heather Wheeler, Barton under Needwood MP Michael Fabricant and Tamworth MP Chris Pincher, gathered at the hospital to explain why A&E should be saved at Burton. Mr Griffiths said: “There is an STP looking at NHS provision working out how best to spend the money and provide care. And much of it is very good, it is modernising the NHS, treating people in their own homes so they are not forced to come to hospital, but one element which I don’t support which was a surprise to us, was the threat of downgrading A&E departments to urgent care unit. Three of those at risk are Burton, Stafford and Stoke so I am very concerned to make sure this vital facility stays open. We have 9,000 local people expressing their views. What we are seeing is that people value the service, their care about it and want to see it continue to be open. They were shocked when they knew it was under threat. It is our job now to make a very positive case about the great services, and we need to send clear message to the health bosses who will be making the decision. It is incredible that in just a week 9,000 people have signed the petition. Do your bit, sign up and lets keep Burton A&E open.”
MP for South Derbyshire, Heather Wheeler, also expressed her concerns. She said: “The downgrading just must not happen. For South Derbyshire people that chose to come here it is much quicker to drive here than to Derby or to Leicester which is where the alternatives would be and it is just unthinkable that it could happen. We know numbers of people and postcodes of people who come here and it is integral to a large part of South Derbyshire that Burton is our A&E. Royal Derby Hospital make sense anyway(for some of my constituents to travel to) but other sides such as Lullington, Smisby, are they really going to go to Leicester? So we will make sure that the MPs, including Andrew Bridgen for North West Leicestershire, are all making a huge effort because their hospital means so much to us.”
Tamworth MP Chris Pincher also demonstrated just how widely Burton is used by constituents across many districts. He said: “It is a very important service. All the people who live in the north of Tamworth will look to Burton as the place they will come if they have an accident or emergency and that is why I am here to talk to Helen Scott-South, the hospital’s chief executive, and with my colleagues, other MPs, to say that we need this service to remain open. I am very pleased to support Andrew Griffiths and his campaign to make sure that any services continue to be provided here at Burton. I was very surprised (at the news of a risk of downgrading at Burton) because it is good hospital and well liked in the community, not just here in Burton, Tamworth, Lichfield and other parts of Staffordshire which use it. I am also very concerned that there is a suggestion that the minor injuries unit might also be effected by these changes so I came to talk to the chief executive to reinforce my message to her that the Robert Peel Peel Hospital’s minor injuries services need to remain open and available to my constituents.”
Michael Fabricant, Lichfield MP which includes Barton under Needwood and Alrewas, also expressed his concerns during a meeting with the chief executive. He said: “It is very important when you’re in an emergency that you get to A&E quickly and, quite frankly, for those who live in Alrewas and Barton under Needwood Burton is the nearest and the quickest to get to. And if they were meant to go to Stafford or Stoke that delay in time, even though you are being cared for by paramedics in the ambulance, it still means that is valuable minutes lost. I totally object to the downgrading and am going to fight and make sure it doesn’t get downgraded. In Staffordshire we have two major centres and they are Burton and they are Stoke, and of course we have Stafford too but Burton is the only one in southern Staffordshire. It must stay open. I am concerned too about minor injuries unit in Lichfield. We have very good minor injuries at Samuel Johnson hospital which is right in the middle of Lichfield and that must stay open as well. If there is going to be change you want to know what those changes are going to be. Where is the minor injuries unit going to move to? Because if you don’t have minor injuries unit it will be GPs, or A&E in Burton that will get those people when time is of the essence and emergencies are meant to be serious emergencies not a cut finger. But a cut finger does need to be dealt with and that is why a minor injuries unit is so important to take the pressure off GPs and also A&E like here in Burton.”
(Story credited to Ms Helen Kreft of the Burton Mail)