Monday, 2 July 2012
Three ABMU Consultant Physicians have explained in more detail why the Health Board is considering introducing changes at Neath Port Talbot Hospital from September.
Chris Hudson, ABMU Clinical Director for Integrated Medicine for Swansea; Steve Lennox, Clinical Director for Integrated Medicine in Neath Port Talbot, and Rohan Mehta, and Clinical Director for Integrated Medicine in Bridgend, warned it would be unsafe to continue to admit acutely ill medical patients without an adequate number of experienced doctors to care for them.
The provision of a safe and effective service for Neath Port Talbot patients is their priority, they said, and the changes are aimed to provide that.
The Health Board meets on Thursday (July 5th) to discuss changes which will affect the provision of acute medical care at Neath Port Talbot Hospital. It follows a decision by the Wales Deanery (which is responsible for post graduate doctor training) to reallocate all CT2 doctors from the hospital from August, 2012 to more suitable training environments.
In Neath Port Talbot Hospital CT2 doctors are the most senior doctors on site after 8pm responsible for the care of acutely medically unwell patients. Without these doctors the safety and care of acute patients is compromised.
Extensive efforts by ABMU to recruit to the posts - including an overseas recruitment campaign - have not produced enough doctors for a safe service. This is not a local problem; there is a UK-wide shortage of some doctors.
Dr Lennox explained:
“Without an adequate number of experienced doctors available at Neath Port Talbot Hospital, patients will be put at risk. This is because they may not be assessed properly; or they may fail to get the treatment they need.
“This is not acceptable, because patients must be treated in a safe environment.
“In addition, modern healthcare is changing and patients with complex acute medical needs should have access to a range of support and critical care services.
“Having access to these additional services means that not only will patients recover more quickly, but with better outcomes.”
Dr Mehta said:
“This current situation at Neath Port Talbot Hospital has been caused by doctor recruitment problems, but we feel that out of this we will be able to provide better services for acute medical patients.
“It may mean they will need to go to some of our other hospitals, but they will be treated by experienced doctors with the benefit of appropriate support services and facilities.”
Dr Hudson added:
“These changes do not need to be seen in a negative light.
“Over the past couple of years we have consolidated some of our services for stroke and some types of heart attacks on fewer sites. All the evidence shows that the outcomes are better because people are treated by expert teams with the back up support of other specialties on the same site.
“People who suffer strokes, for example, now go to Morriston and the Princess of Wales hospitals, where they are offered clot-busting injections called thrombolysis 24/7. Given early enough, these injections can greatly reduce or even prevent permanent damage.
“Likewise patients with certain types of heart attacks now go directly to Morriston Hospital which has one of only two Cardiac Centres in Wales.
“This has improved outcomes so much that it is not only ABMU patients who are taken there directly, but patients from across South West Wales.
“So these patients might not have their initial treatment in a hospital closest to where they live, but their survival rates are higher.”
Acute medical patients include those with illness like infections; respiratory problems; diarrohea and vomiting, blood clots in legs and chest pains.
Despite the changes, there are no plans to close Neath Port Talbot Hospital. It will continue to play a very important role.
The Health Board is currently working through the details of the changes and will share these plans widely when they are available.