DCSIMG

Downgrade of Milton Keynes A&E is like “sleepwalking to a catastrophe” claims leading doctor

Milton Keynes Hospital

Milton Keynes Hospital

A leading doctor at Milton 
Keynes Hospital claims that plans to downgrade A&E services are the equivalent of “sleepwalking into a 
catastrophic disaster”.

Dr Sandro Lanzon-Miller has worked at MK Hospital for 19 years, and was previously medical director, the highest medical role.

He told the Citizen this week that the changes being proposed as part of a £3.2million healthcare review will “inevitably have a domino effect on the other major services”.

He said: “lt is my duty as a doctor to point out that I and the majority of my consultant colleagues (and many GPs) are very, very, concerned about the future of the hospital if it does not retain its status as a Major Emergency Centre, and if it merged with Bedford.

“We are in danger of sleep walking into a catastrophic disaster for the growing population of Milton Keynes.”

He added: “Loss of our A&E centre status as a major emergency centre will inevitably result in loss or major downgrading of our Intensive Care Unit (Department of Critical Care) and with it will go those specialities which require ICU back up (ie surgery) and in turn those specialties which rely on surgery namely all acute specialties including emergency medicine.

“The fear is that our hospital, for which the people of Milton Keynes fought so hard will become in effect a cottage hospital.”

Services at Milton Keynes and Bedford Hospitals are currently undergoing a joint £3.2million review, which is expected to see one or both centres undergo a “major downgrade” of their A&E service. The review is being led by Bedford and Milton Keynes Clinical Commissioning Groups (CCGs) which oversee healthcare across the two areas.

The review has reduced an original 36 choices to five options, which will go to public consultation shortly.

Dr Lanzon-Miller, who said that he was writing in a private capacity as a Milton Keynes resident, added: “We have one of the fastest growing populations in the country and the original young adults of the new town are now reaching retirement age and in need of the local hospital services.

“Travelling between two sites for appointments, or to visit elderly loved ones at the other hospital, will be difficult enough for those of us with cars, but well-nigh impossible for the elderly and those without cars, poor eyesight, or mobility problems.

“Try getting from Milton Keynes to Bedford in the dark, with poor eyesight and 
mobility in winter on public transport.”

Milton Keynes CCG was not available to comment.

Dr Sandro Lanzon-Miller’s letter in full:

Dear Editor

I write in my private capacity, as a citizen of Milton Keynes. However, as a Consultant Physician at Milton Keynes hospital for the past 19 years, and the previous Medical Director, I feel it is my duty as a doctor to point out that I and the majority of my consultant colleagues (and many GPs) are very,

very, concerned about the future of the hospital if it does not retain its status as a Major Emergency Centre, and if it merged with Bedford. We are in danger of sleep walking into a catastrophic disaster for the growing population of Milton Keynes.

Let me make it perfectly clear that the loss of MK’s Major Emergency Centre status (the so called 2b status), will inevitably have a domino effect on the other major services. Since the whole reason for the Bedford and Milton Keynes review is the belief by the regulator Monitor that there are too many hospitals serving the area, and also that for a hospital to be “economic”, it needs to serve a population of at least 500,000, then one or other hospitals must be downsized. There is little or no actual hard UK data to support this dogma but Monitor is , and has been for several years, blindly wedded to this idea and this is what has driven this review as evidenced by the fact that they have put up the 3.4 million pounds for an American company McKinsey to overview the project. Both Milton Keynes and Bedford Clinical Commissioning Groups are caught between a rock and a hard place by the Monitor strategy. In any case I would point out that by 2030 the projected population growth for MK approach will be 400,000. We have one of the fastest growing populations in the country and the original young adults of the new town are now reaching retirement age and in need of the local hospital services.

Loss of our Accident and Emergency centre status as a major emergency centre will inevitably result in loss or major downgrading of our Intensive Care Unit (Department of Critical Care) and with it will go those specialities which require ICU back up, i.e. surgery and in turn those specialties which rely on surgery namely all acute specialities including emergency medicine. The fear is that our hospital, for which the people of Milton Keynes fought so hard (you may remember the campaign “we are dying for a hospital” all those year ago), will become in effect a cottage hospital.

What is more, travelling between two sites for different appointments or to visit elderly loved ones at the other hospital will be difficult enough for those of us with cars but well-nigh impossible for the elderly and those without cars, poor eyesight, mobility problems or any combination of the above.

Try getting from Milton Keynes to Bedford in the dark with poor eyesight and mobility in winter on public transport. So much for the much purported “care close to home”. There is another governance reason why a merger between the two hospitals is potentially dangerous – namely the information systems between the two hospitals are different. All medical records at MK are electronic but those in Bedford are still paper based. A patient attending one hospital for one condition and the other hospital for a different condition is at risk of one or other of the specialists not having all the necessary information available when making an important decision e.g. operation. Whilst technically soluble - and it would be necessary in advance to show to the Care Quality Commission (CQC) that that the systems are embedded and working so as ensure that any changes do not impact on patient safety - it would be very costly to achieve equality in the information systems. The disastrous and wasteful national IT project demonstrated the practical difficulties of trying to merge IT systems. No work on this has yet been done. I read with interest the letters of our local politicians - who have been fully aware of Monitor’s plans vaguely voicing their support for our A/E and hospital but unfortunately neither have said for the avoidance of doubt categorically, that losing our Major Emergency Centre (2b) status cannot be an option. In the public consultations we need to give our views as residents of Milton Keynes about any proposals. With the election looming in 10 months or so, our MPs should come out and say specifically that they will not accept anything else but keeping our Major Emergency Centre status.

Failure to speak out directly to this effect may mean that the Milton Keynes electorate will show their displeasure when they come to vote. This is one of those occasions when if you are not for us then you are against us.

I would like to take the opportunity to thank the Citizen for its very public support to our A/E.

Dr Sandro Lanzon-Miller MB BCh MD FRCP

 

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