Councillors not convinced Heatherwood plans will give "efficient and good quality health services"By Julie Spencer
January 30, 2013
A ‘flawed' proposal to reorganise health care in Bracknell Forest has not convinced councillors the new system will give patients ‘efficient and good quality health services’.
Concerns about the future viability of Heatherwood Hospital and patient choice are contained in the official response of Bracknell Forest Council’s Executive to the NHS Shaping the Future of Health Care in East Berkshire consultation.
The proposal includes closing the Ascot Birth Centre at Heatherwood, moving its minor injuries unit to a new urgent care centre in Bracknell and closing a rehabilitation ward in favour of home and community-based recovery.
At a meeting of Bracknell Forest Council last night councillors were recommended to approve the executive’s view that the proposal does not spell out whether Heatherwood Hospital will have a ‘sustainable financial position’.
The response states: “The proposed further removal of services from the hospital should be set out in the context of whatever is the full, future vision for that site.”
The council’s response also questions the proposal’s ‘preferential treatment’ for the Heatherwood and Wexham Park Hospital Trust, fearing Bracknell and Ascot patients will be sent to Slough for treatment when they would prefer Royal Berkshire Hospital (RBH) in Reading or Frimley Park in Surrey.
The council’s response states the proposals have a ‘significant knock-on consequences’ for both Frimley Park and the RBH.
It states: “It must be recognised that Heatherwood and Wexham Park Hospital Trust is no longer the preferred service provider in Bracknell Forest and that any attempts to manipulate the local market and inhibit patient choice or place the (Bracknell Forest and Ascot) Clinical Commissioning Group in financial difficulty will be resisted at the highest possible level.”
The Shaping the Future document was published in the autumn and people in Bracknell Forest and Ascot have until January 31 to log their comments.
Bracknell Forest Council’s executive does support a well-staffed urgent care centre at Brants Bridge but stresses patients must know what treatment is available there. It also supports the home rehabilitation strategy as long as it is well-funded and organised.
The proposal to close the Ascot Birth Centre at Heatherwood is also supported by the council’s executive as long as mothers-to-be have ‘real choices’ about where to give birth, whether in hospital or at home.