Hospital merger benefits outlined

Scarborough Hospital Public Meeting.'Speakers (from left).. Mike Proctor, Sir Michael Carlisle, Leo McGrory.'120327a. Picture Kevin Allen.'18/01/12.
Scarborough Hospital Public Meeting.'Speakers (from left).. Mike Proctor, Sir Michael Carlisle, Leo McGrory.'120327a. Picture Kevin Allen.'18/01/12.

THE BENEFITS of Bridlington Hospital’s merger with York Teaching Hospital NHS Foundation Trust were outlined at a public meeting held on Monday.

Scarborough and North East Yorkshire NHS Trust (SNEY) chief executive Mike Proctor, trust chairman Sir Michael Carlisle and Bridlington Hospital development manager Matthew Groom spoke to around 90 members of the public about the proposed merger at the meeting, hosted by East Riding of Yorkshire LINK at Bridlington Spa.

Sir Carlisle opened the meeting by explaining the rationale behind amalgamating with the York Trust, chiefly that Government guidelines dictate that all hospital trusts must have Foundation status by 2014 – which “would not have happened” without the merger, which is expected to be completed in April.

He told the audience how since he joined the trust in 2007, the trust’s debt had reduced from £20.5m to £12.9m and that over the next few years, around £20m would be spent on the Bridlington and Scarborough sites, with a focus on staff recruitment.

“We will provide a sustainable trust not burdened by debt. A good future, with good quality care, not only in the hospitals but in all the services delivered by the new trust,” said Sir Carlisle.

Chief executive Mike Proctor told the meeting that due to huge changes in the way healthcare is delivered and paid for, the current SNEY would not be able to last on its own but that the trust’s aim is to “deliver safe, effective and sustainable healthcare to our communities”.

Mr Proctor said that because of the large geographical area covered by the trust which has a high proportion of elderly people within its population of 180,000, who are largely rurally based, meeting healthcare needs is increasingly difficult.

The estate, according to Mr Proctor, needs £20m immediate investment, while the trust’s finances have required support for the last 10 years which has led to an historic underinvestment in staff – which has been exacerbated with a difficulty to attract medical staff who Mr Proctor said do not like working in small teams or outside of big cities.

Mr Proctor highlighted this staffing dilemma by revealing that the York Trust has currently has an annual turnover of £250m, and spends £1m on locum doctors, while SNEY spend £5m of their £100m turnover on locums.

However, Mr Proctor was keen to stress that the York Trust would be gaining as much from the merger as SNEY, saying that the “excellent clinical practice” seen at both Scarborough and Bridlington Hospitals has already been replicated at York hospital.

Mr Proctor said that continuing with separate trust’s is not “clinically or financially viable” for SNEY and that “if we do not (merge) things will get a lot worse in the current climate” – telling the audience that Bridlington and Scarborough Hospital’s “would be closed if they were ran as businesses”.

Mr Proctor also moved to quickly assure those in the audience concerned by a loss of services to York by saying that “patients would not bussed to York. That isn’t right for patients, and York is already full”.

Responding to a question from the floor about the name of merged trust, Mr Proctor said that the trust would retain the York name for the first year to 18 months, but would go to a formal consultation after that.

Sir Michael Carlisle told the audience that after the merger, that power to make big decisions about Scarborough and Bridlington will not be transferred to York as “local commission” is vital.

Mike Proctor assured audience members that while he would revert to second in command behind York chief executive Patrick Crowley after the merger, he would still spend “the majority of his time” in Scarborough and Bridlington.

One audience member asked whether the trust had considered renting out the two empty wards at Bridlington Hospital to private healthcare companies – something which Mr Proctor said that trust had not.

“We tried to move stroke care to Bridlington but the Strategic Health Authority told me I couldn’t. There are no plans for the wards at the moment, but I would have to be absolutely certain that we could not use them before I looked into letting them out.

“We may need extra space for out patients in Bridlington somewhere down the line so we would need somewhere for that.”