Patient groups back closure of hospitals

Wed, 17 March 2010

The following is an extract from an article in the Health Service Journal (HSJ)
17 March 2010, by Dave West

Dozens of patient organisations are backing plans to close hospital services in coming years, but fear they will be let down by bad public engagement.

National Voices, the umbrella group representing many patient groups, including the Stroke Association, Cancer Research UK and the National Childbirth Trust, has said closures will “sometimes be the right outcome” as the NHS faces investment cuts and growing demand.

Not all local hospital care is good enough, safe enough or in the right place
In a report published this week it acknowledges that after the general election, plans for “primarily cost driven” major service changes will emerge in many areas.

Early plans, for example in London, propose dramatic cuts in hospital capacity in favour of primary and community care.

National Voices says: “The reflex ‘Save our local hospital’ is the line of least resistance and not always the right one.

“Not all local hospital care is good enough, safe enough or in the right place. Many patients want to have more care and treatment nearer to home.

“Too many people are admitted who shouldn’t be, and stay longer than they should or want to.”

But it says good quality involvement of the public and patients - which often does not happen - will be important.