Speculation is rising that Tameside Hospital’s Accident and Emergency Unit could join 23 other A&E units across the country that have been identified for a possible downgrade or closure according to an analysis of new documents revealed by iNews. (1)
A detailed analysis of plans to remodel the NHS across England show that 24 emergency units from the South East to North West have been downgraded, which may lead to closure. This links directly to government plans which tasked NHS bosses with drawing up proposals in order to plug a £22bn hole in the health service budget by the end of 2021. (2)
Although A&E Units across the country have seen a record-breaking year in terms of patients using their services, with 1.4 million A&E visits in January alone (3), NHS managers are planning to cater for up to 30 per cent fewer A&E visits by 2020. Research from the Health Service Journal (HSJ) showed around 24, or 15%, of A&Es had been targeted by managers in order to lower financial pressures. (4)
The newspaper report also pointed to a Johnston Press Investigation Unit piece which revealed that managers are planning to cater for up to 30 per cent fewer A&E visits over the next four-year period as well as more advanced plans which would downgrade units to urgent care centres (UCC) with fewer specialist or consultant-grade staff.
A downgrade is a loss of some services or not open 24 hrs; closure is exactly that, no A&E. Either way, Tameside could be left without a fully operational A&E.
Andrew Gwynne said:
“I am extremely concerned to hear the news that Tameside A&E unit has been threatened with closure, not because of safety or poor service, but in order to balance the books.
“I don’t believe that my constituents who rely on Tameside Hospital should lose out just because the government can’t get a grip on the NHS. But if these proposals do go through, patients’ lives will be put at risk as ambulance journey times to reach emergency units take longer.
“I’ll be speaking to the Chief Executive of Tameside Hospital, Karen James, who since being appointed in 2014 has turned the hospital around, and we’ll be working together to fight any attempts to close Tameside’s A&E.”