Football example a misleading one

I NOTE from last week’s Herald that members of the Eastbourne Hailsham and Seaford Clinical Commissioning Group (GPs: changes will not be bad) state ‘Footballer Fabrice Muamba’s life was saved by travelling past general hospitals to a specialist chest centre after his heart attack’. This is very misleading.

Fabrice Muamba’s story is a great success story for all concerned and they deserve great praise and recognition.

It appears, however, that the Commissioning Group is overlooking the fact treatment was administered immediately on the pitch by paramedics supported by very experienced senior clinicians also present on the day. Treatment was continued en route to the specialist centre where one clinician worked.

Those were exceptional circumstances and cannot be used as an example of what will happen in the future. Under normal circumstances, by-passing a General Hospital builds in an automatic delay in the additional specialist care that can currently be provided.

East Sussex Healthcare Trust says it is committed to maintaining A& E in both towns. However, the proposals in the document ‘Shaping Our Future’ will change A&E in one.

Currently, both towns have A&E departments designated as Trauma Units. The inevitable consequence (admitted by the Trust) is this will only be possible for one in the future - the other will see changes in the nature of patients attending and trauma patients will have to travel further, with some by-passing a General Hospital where they can, at present, receive treatment.

In addition, the document ‘Shaping Our Future’, which forms the basis of the current consultation, gives examples of what may happen now compared with the model of care that may be expected in the future should the reconfiguration of services go ahead – thus demonstrating the improvement in quality.

The Eastbourne public should be aware the model of care proposed in the future for elderly patients with a fractured neck or femur is the model of care already in existence at the DGH.

It cannot be described as an improvement in quality should they need to be transported by ambulance 20 miles or more to receive a standard of treatment which, at best, is no better than they get now.

The proposals will have far reaching effects if going ahead, and deserve serious consideration. The public must have accurate information on which to form an opinion, sadly this appears not the case at the moment.

P J NASH

Retired Consultant Anaesthetist (DGH) and chairman of the Friends of the DGH.