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Heart and stroke consultation labelled as “tick box exercise”

Date published: 11 December 2011

Health campaigner Councillor Jean Ashworth has described a consultation over the future of heart and stroke services as “another tick box exercise” that will leave the borough “without adequate access to care.”

The public consultation, which runs until 14 January 2012, outlines that complicated and high risk cardiology procedures should be moved from the Silver Heart Unit at Rochdale Infirmary to Fairfield General Hospital. It also includes proposals for stroke rehabilitation services, in relation to whether a new ‘step down’ non urgent stroke facility should be provided in Rochdale, or if stroke patients should be rehabilitated at home .

Rochdale Councillor, Jean Ashworth said: “I would urge everyone to take time to read the options and please voice your opinions as once again this seems to be yet another tick box exercise which will leave this borough and surrounding areas without adequate access to care.”

Councillor Ashworth has raised concerns over the options outlined in the consultation document regarding the stroke services. Option A would see home rehabilitation whilst Option B would see the provision of a rehabilitation facility in Rochdale.

“They say Option A is the preferred one regarding stroke patients - but that is only because Option B would be more expensive,” she said.

“The original plan was to move stroke patients back to Rochdale, closer to home, now they say it is better to move them back to their own homes.

“A very serious concern regarding stroke patients is that it is important that the best service is provided as soon as possible, but the proposed changes to discharge back into one's own home has to have the correct medical staff - is this in place? Who are the trained staff? Who provides the staff? And who supervises them?”

Councillor Ashworth added: “Under the preferred option Rochdale patients will be expected to visit clinics for treatment. How will they get there? Transport is a major issue and we can't be expected to rely on the volunteer drivers schemes to do this.

“Healthy Futures agree that we have been badly let down with transport problems leaving many patients and visitors stranded and not able to attend appointments or visit loved ones. Many people do not meet the present criteria for transport.”

Councillor Ashworth said that whilst discussions are now taking place for rehabilitation to be provided at two locations in the borough as well as a grant for transport and 12 beds at the Infirmary for low level rehabilitation it “should have been done long before any services were removed.”

Councillor Ashworth concluded: “With regards to our Cardiac Centre of Excellence that was promised, we all know that the consultation was flawed and must demand a full enquiry into the decision to prematurely remove it along with our A&E service.

“There are far too many gaps which need filling in before any further changes are made.”

A spokesperson for Healthy Futures, said: “We are conscious that relationships between the NHS and the public have been less than ideal since the original consultation in 2006, but this consultation is certainly not a ‘tick box exercise.’

“We are consulting with the public because we want their views and ideas. We are determined that this process should be open, transparent and meaningful and for that reason we have been meeting with a range of interested groups and the public, and listening to what they are telling us.”

The spokesperson added: “Part of Pennine Care NHS Foundation Trust, the community Neuro Rehabilitation Team treats neurological conditions, including stroke.

“The qualified clinical team comprises: Senior Clinical Specialist Therapist and Clinical Lead – overall supervision; Social Inclusion Lead and Specialist Social Worker; Clinical Specialist Occupational Therapist; Clinical Specialist Physiotherapist; Specialist Practitioner in Stroke; Highly Specialist Physiotherapist; Highly Specialist Physiotherapist; Specialist Physiotherapist x 3; Highly Specialist Occupational Therapist x 2; Highly Specialist Speech and Language Therapist.

“The team is supported by a group therapy and support staff. The team also works closely with professionals from Pennine Acute NHS Hospitals Trust and Rochdale Borough Council.”

The spokesperson continued: “In order to identify a preferred stroke rehabilitation option, a clinical group was asked to weight the options, and a process as agreed to formally review each of the options and identify a preference.

“Each of the options was scored against a number of criteria which included: capacity and facilities, demographic factors, impact on patient flows, safety, staff recruitment and retention, strategic fit and clinical linkages, travel times and value for money.

“Option A was the preferred option for clinicians in terms of sustainability and delivering best patient outcomes in terms of morbidity, mortality and long term functional ability. A series of engagement events also took place with patients and the public for their preferred option, and again, Option A was the preferred option at this stage.

“Although Option A is the preferred option, Option B is also under consideration because Rochdale and Rossendale stroke patients now receive their hospital treatment outside the borough, whereas patients elsewhere in our area are treated by their local general hospitals.

“Research tells us that people who have had a stroke recover better if they are in a familiar environment. It is important that we hear the public’s views before we embark on the task of assessing what such a facility would look like, how we would use existing resources to support it, and what detailed work would be needed to make it happen.”

In relation to transport issues, the spokesperson said: “We know that difficulties regarding transport exist and we have to admit that, so far, we have not delivered a solution that is satisfactory for patients and the public. We are committed to finding a solution and are working with Pennine Acute Hospitals NHS Trust, Transport for Greater Manchester, local authorities, community transport and voluntary organisations looking at this issue.”

The spokesperson highlighted that a transport service piloted by NHS Heywood, Middleton and Rochdale (HMR) for day patients using a Heywood health centre has recently earned national recognition. Read more here.

The spokesperson concluded: “NHS HMR is also considering piloting a transport service that would operate from Rochdale to Fairfield General Infirmary and Royal Oldham Hospital in the first instance. This pre-bookable service would be available to both patients and visitors and would collect users from a home address and drop off at a hospital.

“Other ideas include providing shuttle buses between hospital sites and also expanding the existing community transport and ring and ride provision. We are under no illusions that we have all the answers and so any ideas from the public would be welcomed.”


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