A seven-month review of services at Sir Robert Peel Hospital, Tamworth, has resulted in a decision to close its under-used operating theatre and surgical ward.
Burton Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust has given an assurance however, that the hospital will not face closure, and that local people will be invited to ‘listening events’ as work continues to ensure that the best possible use is made of the hospital’s facilities.
Use of the day case theatre and surgical ward has fallen by more than 30% over the last five years, say the Burton Hospitals NHS foundation trust and that to keep the facility open over the next one to two years would require investment of £200,000 to £300,000 for new equipment.
They say that only an average of 29 patients per week would be affected by the closure.
The Trust’s Director of Operations, Mark Powell, said: “I would like to assure the local community that the care currently being provided to surgery patients at Sir Robert Peel is completely safe and delivered by skilled and caring staff. But the fall in use of the theatre does mean that it would become more difficult to provide a safe, quality service in future if we were to keep the facility open.”
A detailed timetable for the closure, and alternative arrangements for local patients to access services, is still being finalised but patients could choose to have their operation at Queen’s Hospital, Burton (18 miles from SRP), or Good Hope Hospital (eight miles from SRP), and in the future there could be the opportunity for up to 40% of patients to be treated in GP’s surgeries.
Mr Powell said: “We are mindful of the extra distance some patients may be required to travel in future, but the decision has been based on ensuring we can continue to deliver clinically excellent patient care, sustainably, in the future.”
A review of the Trust’s community hospital facilities – to ensure that all the services offered were effective and financially sustainable – was recommended last year by Sir Bruce Keogh’s review team.
The review also includes the Endoscopy Unit that is running at 42% of its capacity. Discussions are ongoing about whether it should receive investment to upgrade facilities and equipment or whether the service should be relocated to Queen’s Hospital, Burton, in the best interests of patients. This review is due to conclude in May 2014.
Mr Powell said: “Over the last seven months we have been looking closely at the situation at Sir Robert Peel and discussing options with the local Clinical Commissioning Group and other local health providers. They told us they did not wish to increase their current use of the operating theatre and surgical ward.
“We do appreciate that any change in provision of local health services is a concern for local people but we want to assure everyone that the Trust is working hard to ensure that we are in a position to deliver sustainable, safe, consistently high quality care to all the people we serve now and in the future. This does mean that difficult decisions have to be made.”
The Trust will continue to look at ways of making the best use of the Sir Robert Peel. Talks are ongoing with health providers about a number of other services that could be run from the hospital. These will be discussed at future community listening events.
The hospital’s Minor Injuries Unit – open 24 hours a day, seven days a week – and other services currently provided at Sir Robert Peel are unaffected.