Central Scotland SNP MSP Alex Neil is calling for NHS Lanarkshire to radically rethink their plans for the future of Accident and Emergency services in their area in light of comments made by the Chief Executive of neighbouring NHS Greater Glasgow and Clyde and from the Ambulance Service.
Tom Divers, Chief Executive of NHS Greater Glasgow and Clyde has claimed that whilst the hospitals people routinely used in an emergency situation had been stable for some time, the decision of NHS Lanarkshire to shut one of the Accident and Emergency Departments had introduced a “different dynamic”. NHS Lanarkshire are now claiming that their assumptions for demand on Accident and Emergency services are based on the notion that in future emergency patients will not automatically be taken to their nearest A&E department, but if one is within 10 or 15 minutes longer journey time than that department, but within the person’s own Health Board area they will be sent there.
An example of this might be, whilst a patient in the East Renfrewshire area is technically a NHS Greater Glasgow and Clyde resident, they will probably find their closest A&E is at Hairmyres in East Kilbride. NHS Lanarkshire no longer expects them to use this hospital as a matter of course.
Mr Neil doesn’t believe such expectations are reasonable, and that people will go to their closest A&E in an emergency situation, as they presently do. He believes that NHS Lanarkshire’s assumptions are based on a wholly flawed premise that people will go along what they suggest – that people go to a further away A&E if it is only 10 to 15 minutes further away.
Indeed, the Scottish Ambulance Service has already stated that they will ignore such instructions and act in the best interests of the patient, and if that means taking a person to an A&E outwith their own Health Board area, they do so, as they do at present.
Mr Neil is heavily critical of NHS Lanarkshire’s assumptions about what they have termed “cross-boundary flow” and is recommending that they go back to the drawing board with their A Picture of Health consultation. He is also angry that the Health Board failed to present the findings of their cross-boundary flow review at the beginning of the consultation process, as this is key to the future levels of demand for Accident and Emergency services within Lanarkshire.
Mr Neil said:
“The assumptions made by NHS Lanarkshire that in future people will not go to their closest Accident and Emergency Department are crazy. In an emergency situation anyone will seek medical attention as quickly as they can get it, and that means for most people going to their closest department. A not unreasonable assumption in my point of view.”
“Yet, the Health Board in Lanarkshire expect people not to do this. They must be living in cloud cuckoo land if they think that any reasonable parent seeking emergency attention for their child would follow this ‘instruction’.”
“They state that if someone can access an accident and emergency department further away from their nearest but within 10 or 15 minutes they should, so they can stay within their own health board area. 10 to 15 minutes can be the difference between life and death in the most serious of emergency situations.”
“Indeed, the Ambulance Service have already said they will ignore this silly diktat from the bureaucrats at NHS Lanarkshire, and I commend them for this. At least they place the care of the patient at the heart of what they do, if the Health Board officials don’t.”
”And this is what should have primacy in all of these deliberations, the care of the patient. I don’t see that this is what is driving the Health Board plans though, and that is a disgrace.”
“It is time for them to hold up their hands and admit that they have got this one wrong. Even the Chief Executive of the Health Board in Glasgow says that NHS Lanarkshire’s plans for Accident and Emergency change the dynamic of coverage across the West of Scotland.”
”It all adds to the growing weight of evidence against NHS Lanarkshire’s crazy plans to shut one of their accident and emergency departments. They have to go back to the drawing board and think again.”