Old Bexley & Sidcup MP James Brokenshire and George Jenkins and Dr Chris Streather, the Chairman and Chief Executive of the South London Healthcare NHS Trust met on Friday to discuss the future of services at Queen Mary's Hospital, Sidcup.
The meeting came in the wake of a letter sent by Sir David Nicholson the Chief Executive of the NHS in England to all health trusts highlighting new requirements by which health service reorganisations are to be assessed.
Four key tests are now to be applied:
1. Support from GP commissioners will be essential;
2. Arrangements for public and patient engagement, including local authorities should be further strengthened;
3. There should be greater clarity about the clinical evidence base underpinning proposals;
4. That proposals should take into account the need to develop and support patient choice.
Sir David Nicholson's letter added that:
"PCTs and other NHS bodies with current reconfigurations proposals will be asked to revisit their processes to date to ensure they meet these new requirements. This applies to all future reconfigurations and those that are ongoing. I expect that in many cases this will require further work to be done locally and, in consultation with the IRP, assure the Department that these new standards are being applied."
During the private 90 minute meeting at Queen Mary's Hospital, the hospital trust managers sought to highlight the potential benefits of the ‘A Picture of Health Plans' which would see A&E, maternity and other services transferred off the Queen Mary's site whilst James Brokenshire underlined that the proposals would reduce the availability of services for Bexley residents.
Commenting James Brokenshire said:
"We both agreed that clarification was required on how the new national assessment standards should be applied. I will be writing to the Department of Health to follow up on a number of points arising from the meeting asking that appropriate directions be given to the Trust.
"What is clear is that the Trust will need to demonstrate that it is following the requirements set out by the Chief Executive of the NHS in England. Despite what was a helpful meeting, I remain of the view that the ‘A Picture of Health' plans do not satisfy the new criteria and that significant changes need to be made in the best interests of Bexley residents and to secure the future of Queen Mary's Hospital."