30 October 2013
Letter to the editor
‘The only way the NHS can deliver services seven days a week is through significant, clinically-led reconfiguration of care’
Sir, Professor Norman Williams is right that patients will have to accept closure of hospital facilities if the NHS is to achieve “super-deluxe” round-the-clock care (“Seven-day NHS ‘means hospitals must close’,” Oct 28). In a publicly funded healthcare system that needs to improve quality with virtually zero real-term funding increases, an ageing population and an ever-increasing cost base it is simply impossible for the NHS to provide a higher quality service across all its existing hospitals.
The only way the NHS can deliver services seven days a week is through significant, clinically-led reconfiguration of care. This means delivering more services closer to home and fewer — but appropriate — services in larger acute hospitals. This will result in smaller, local hospitals becoming community hubs for primary and social care and greater centralisation of emergency and acute services on to fewer larger hospital sites. While these changes are often understandably opposed by local people, they are absolutely necessary to drive up quality and save lives, so it is time for local political leaders to show courageous leadership and become advocates for the changes which they know provide the only mechanism to improve care standards for patients.
Sam Burrows is a healthcare expert at PA Consulting Group