“Having told the managers of the Burton and Derby Hospitals that I could only support their merger if front line clinical services are to be enhanced by savings in back-office administrative functions, I was alarmed to learn that stroke services are to be moved to Derby from Burton” says Michael Fabricant.
In a statement, the joint Trusts have said “Our initial priority is to ensure that all clinical services continue to operate safely and effectively from 1 July. However, over time we will be making the changes we need to realise major benefits for our patients. Some services have already been reviewed in detail so that we can start to make some of these changes more quickly.”
Michael says: “However, I have made inquiries and understand the medical logic of moving stroke services to Derby Hospital following the merger of the Burton and Derby Hospitals Trusts.
“As we all know, in stroke patients: speed of treatment is the essence. If there is a blood clot causing the stroke, rather than a bleed, then drugs must be injected to break up the clot and these need to be applied urgently. However before this is done, a special CT scan – X-ray Computed Tomography – needs to be undertaken first to determine if the stroke is caused by a clot or a bleed, otherwise a bleed would make the stroke far worse if clot busting drugs were injected.
“The medical opinion at Burton seems to be that it is still worth those few extra minutes’ drive to take the patient directly to Derby, where the team there are much better equipped and trained. If the CT scan were done in Burton, it would have to be diagnosed by a qualified radiologist before the drug were administered, and after that the patient would probably still have to be taken to Derby for the treatment. So medical clinicians argue that it is better to send patients direct to Derby where there are much better diagnostic and treatment services than currently available in Burton.
“Of course I understand that there is genuine and understandable concern about the extra distance to Derby from Lichfield, which I share. However when an ambulance from Lichfield reaches the Burton exit, it takes about 8 minutes on average, to reach the Burton A&E department, whereas if the ambulance stays on the A38, it only takes just a further 10 minutes to reach the Derby hospital A&E which is located on the south side of the city where more specialised services are available.
“This whole matter is further compounded by both Trusts having major workforce challenges to maintain clinical staff, with Burton currently having a vacancy rate of 12%. Managers believe this will be overcome by the merger as doctors and nurses prefer working in a larger professional environment. This is currently being borne out by interviews with clinicians.
“Nevertheless, I will of course monitor how these changes affect patients from Lichfield, Burntwood and elsewhere as will others including the regional and national NHS who have approved these changes.”