Lichfield’s MP has said he will be continuing to seek reassurances over plans to move stroke services from Burton to Derby.
The switch has come about following the decision combine Burton Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust and Derby Teaching Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust.
Michael Fabricant MP admitted he was initially “alarmed” to hear of the move of stroke services further along the A38, meaning a greater distance for patients in Lichfield and Burntwood – but admitted that there was some reasoning behind the decision by hospital bosses.
“I have made inquiries and understand the medical logic of moving stroke services to Derby Hospital following the merger,” he said.
“As we all know, in stroke patients, speed of treatment is the essence. 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 staff to deal with stroke patients.
“If the CT scan were done in Burton, it would have to be diagnosed by a qualified radiologist before the clot-busting 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.”
The decision had sparked worries over long journey times for stroke patients living in Lichfield and Burntwood.
“Of course I understand that there is genuine and understandable concern about the extra distance to Derby from Lichfield, which I share,” Mr Fabricant said. “However when an ambulance from Lichfield reaches the Burton exit, it takes about eight 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.”
In a statement, the joint trusts said some of the planned changes across the board would benefit patients: “Our initial priority is to ensure that all clinical services continue to operate safely and effectively from July 1.
“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.”