August update.....

As expected, after looking in detail at the PCT's decision, the West Sussex County Council Joint Health Overview and Scrutiny Committee has exercised its power to refer that decision to the Secretary of State for Health.

It will now be looked at by the government and a special body called the Independent Reconfiguration Panel.

You can read about the work and decisions of the Joint Health Overview and Scrutiny Committee by using this link: http://www.westsussex.gov.uk/ccm/content/your-council/scrutiny-and-review-unit/health-scrutiny/joint-health-overview-and-scrutiny-select-committee.en  


July update.....

Following the recommendation that Worthing Hospital was to become the West Sussex Primary Care Trust's 'Major General Hospital' for the area, that decision has now been confirmed by their board.

Board members formally approved the recommendation at their meetings over the last month and in doing so confirmed, to the dismay of people that they will downgrade St Richards Hospital in Chichester.

The decisions taken are now being looked at by the council overview and scrutiny committee.  They have the power to refer the decision to the government and this is what we expect will happen.

West Sussex County Council Leader Henry Smith has said: “We appreciate that the PCT has chosen a service model which will see some form of A&E retained at all three main West Sussex hospitals, but it is a sad day for the whole county to see St Richard’s Hospital effectively downgraded.

“The County Council stressed right from the start of the Fit for the Future process that we did not want to see a reduction in services anywhere in the county, to any of our residents.

“Nor did we want to see residents having to travel outside West Sussex more frequently for services which they would have received in the county before.

“Unfortunately the decisions made do not appear to support this.”

The Joint Health Overview and Scrutiny Committee, formed of representatives from the County Council and the neighbouring authorities affected by the Fit for the Future proposals, is meeting next on Wednesday July 23.

The Joint Committee will scrutinise the PCT's decisions and how they were made, and decide whether or not to refer them to the Secretary of State for Health.

So that is the next step.....  More in due course...

28 May 2008 – Breaking News……….

Worthing set to keep vital health services

Bosses at the West Sussex Primary Care Trust have today said that they will be recommending to their Trust Board that vital health services are kept in Worthing.

Throughout much of their ‘Fit for the Future’ reorganisation of local health services, facilities such as the Accident and Emergency department and the maternity department at Worthing Hospital have been under threat.

Whilst the Accident and Emergency departments at all three Sussex hospitals under threat had already been granted a reprieve, the PCT was still to decide which of Worthing and St Richards Hospitals would be a ‘Major General Hospital’.

The other hospital would see some of its services centralised onto the other site.

John Wilderspin, chief executive of West Sussex Primary Care Trust, said in the local press: "After careful consideration, a recommendation is going to the PCT board that Worthing should be the location for the services we have agreed to centralise.

"This location provides best access for the greatest number of people including those with poorest health outcomes and highest levels of deprivation."

The recommendation health bosses will be putting to the Board of the West Sussex Primary Care Trust next week is that this ‘Major General Hospital’ be in Worthing.

More news will follow in due course.  Read what the press are saying about it at www.worthingherald.co.uk and www.theargus.co.uk.

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Thank you for visiting the Keep Worthing and Southlands Hospitals (KWASH) website. Your continued support is appreciated. Some progress has been made but the battle is not over yet.... There are February and March letters to the press below written by MPs Tim Loughton and Peter Bottomley as well as KWASH chairman Major Tom Wye and the vitally important KWASH clinicians. These are to keep people up-to-speed with the campaign whilst we await the outcome of the Fit for the Future consultation. Further updates will also be posted as things progress....

21 May UPDATE

The West Sussex Primary Care Trust Board will decide on 4 June which hospital will be the 'Major General Hospital' in the area and which will lose services like consultant-led maternity.

Local clinicians, including consultants at Worthing and Southlands and local GPs, as well as others, such as local MPs, have written to the non-executive directors at the Primary Care Trust once again pressing home the case for Worthing.  Click here to read the letter in full.

The decision-making meeting will take place at the Effingham Park Hotel in Copthorne on the 4th at 2pm and we are asking campaigners to dust off their Nurse Sunshine posters and t-shirts and turn out in support.  There will be a coach leaving from the South end of Grand Avenue at 12 noon - if you would like to travel with KWASH then please contact Tom Wye.  Contact details can be found in the latest KWASH newsletter which you can read in full by clicking here.

It is still worth writing or contacting the PCT again - use the contact details below.  Tell them that Worthing must keep these vital health services.

9 May UPDATE

As expected, the West Sussex PCT announced at its public Board meeting this week that the option they have selected for the future of local hospital services is 'Service Model Three'.  This means that a number of key services like accident and emergency and intensive care will remain at WASH.  Full details of that announcement can be found on the PCT website by following this link: www.westsussexpct.nhs.uk/news-and-events/pr-may-2008/ae-departments-to-remain-at-all-three-hospitals/

However the decision also means that full maternity services will be centralised either at Worthing or at St Richards.  That decision will be made at a further public Board meeting on Wednesday 4 June with the time and venue still to be announced.  We would welcome your support at that meeting when the details are announced.

In the meantime, keep up the pressure - contact the PCT and tell them you want full consultant-led maternity at Worthing - Fitforthefuture@westsussexpct.nhs.uk or telephone: 0800 707 6975.

The KWASH campaign is keeping a close watch on all that the PCT is doing - and is keeping all options open, including the prospect of going to judicial review should the PCT decide to axe full maternity and paediatric services from Worthing.

Show your support at....

Dave Hunt (Splash FM) and the group “Reflections” have organised a family fun day for 1st June commencing at 2.30 pm at the LIDO. Dave and some of the group have good reasons to be thankful to WASH and have arranged this fun day as a way of saying “Thank you”.

Admission is FREE and is designed to cater for families. The group Reflections will “Roll back the years” with music and Dave Hunt will fill the gaps with his entertaining chatter, games and music. There will be guest appearances. Please put this in your diary and bring the family for an afternoon of good honest seaside fun. Remember it is FREE!!!!

28 April 2008 UPDATE

Decision time is getting near......

This is the timetable that the West Sussex PCT has set out and you can click here to see their latest news bulletin.


Peter Bottomley, Tim Loughton and Major Tom Wye letter (10 March 2008).

It has now been almost four months since the end of the PCT’s consultation exercise for the reconfiguration of hospital services in West Sussex. Inevitably things give the appearance of having gone quiet on the ‘home front’ in this interim period and it might be useful if we were to update your readers with the likely next steps.

It is now clear that the fantastic campaigns run by KWASH and our sister organisations fighting for services at St Richards and the Princess Royal, which articulated the overwhelming opposition and concerns of local people, succeeded in forcing the PCT to think again. Subsequently the original three narrow options for those hospitals have been shelved and Professor Sir Graeme Catto, the expert brought into to advise the PCT has broadened these options to include keeping A&E services on all three sites. It now looks likely that this will be confirmed shortly. The devil remains in the details however. We await further reassurances about the exact level of emergency clinical cover at these A&E departments particularly as regards emergency surgery.

A debate is still continuing over the likely configuration of maternity services and to what level these may be centralised and the likely demand for midwife led units more widely spread. We have said all along a key consideration here is the existing pressures on the Royal Sussex County Hospital as the nearest alternative. Management there have been very positive in supporting the case for Worthing’s excellent maternity unit.

A lot has been going on behind the scenes over the past four months. Worthing’s consultants have been involved in many meetings with their clinical colleagues and with the PCT to make the case for any changes to be acceptable and right at Worthing. We have liaised with them closely and will continue to do so. Last week all eight West Sussex MPs met the PCT to discuss progress and were advised of the following timetable. Earlier in the week several MPs gave evidence to the County Council’s Overview and Scrutiny Committee. This followed the evidence we gave in the autumn, in front of the PCT and in time to influence recent events.

The first announcement will come at the PCT board meeting on May 7th when a decision will be made on the model of care of health services in West Sussex and the configuration of hospitals.  The following month on June 4th the PCT board will meet to decide on the actual physical sites at which those services will be based.  At the PCT board meeting on July 10th they will take into account the views of the Joint Health Overview and Scrutiny Committee and confirm or modify their decisions accordingly.  Thereafter it will be up to the JHOSC to decide if they want to refer the PCT proposals to the Department of Health and the judicial reviews and other possible challenges could then go ahead.

The actual proposals are likely to be known a week before the PCT meetings as they publish the papers in advance and they are available to the public, though of course subject to the actual decisions being approved at the board meetings themselves. It is likely therefore to be a further seven weeks or so before we have a clearer idea of what is going to happen.

The battle is far from over and we must all continue to be vigilant and support the KWASH cause for which so many worked so hard and so long. Our determination to make sure that our constituents do not see our popular local hospitals downgraded is undiminished and we will continue to work closely with the consultants, hospital managers, our fellow campaigners and the PCT. We all pulled together in the heights of the public campaign last year. Now the work is still intense though less noisy. In the meantime keep your Nurse Sunshine posters up and we still have a supply of fresh ones if yours is looking a little battle scarred!

Thank you for all your continued support for KWASH and we will make sure you are updated just as soon as we have further news.

 Yours

Tim Loughton MP
Peter Bottomley MP
Major Tom Wye MBE (Chairman KWASH)

KWASH Clinicians Letter to press (21 Feb 2008)

Whilst we are very pleased that the PCT and its independent adviser appear to have accepted the idea of maintaining acute medicine, ITU and A&E on both the Worthing and St Richard's sites, it is very important to note that the proposals still leave a significant difference between the planned Major general hospital site (MGH) and the planned local general hospital (LGH).

KWASH have consistently supported the idea of maintaining both acute surgery and consultant led obstetrics on both sites (although accepting that the size of the units may be different). The new plans however plan for a 'phased centralisation' of both these services on one site. 

Whilst we are disappointed and worried about this, we acknowledge that the proviso that this will be in the light of emerging evidence allows the possibility of a change of emphasis in the future.

This is particularly important as we believe an A&E without acute surgical, paediatric or maternity back up will not remain a genuine viable A&E department as we know it. We believe the evidence will clearly demonstrate that these services are best maintained on both acute sites.

However, If the final decision of the PCT is to centralise either of these services, it is absolutely clear that it is inconceivable to any one reviewing all the evidence, requirements, population, geography and deprivation indices, that any single full acute surgical and full consultant maternity service could be anywhere except on the Worthing site, due to the vastly higher level of services already provided , and (particularly for obstetrics) due to the much higher levels of deprivation in Worthing which is clearly linked to perinatal and maternal risk and which requires close availability of high-class consultant led services (as exemplified, for example, by the maternity decisions in East Sussex).

If this is the future PCT decides on (and we emphasise that we still believe the evidence will support maintaining services across both sites), KWASH remain committed to maintaining the highest quality of healthcare possible for the population of West Sussex: in a single major site solution this can clearly only be achieved with the major site at Worthing. The saving grace is that the new proposals, compared with the old ones, mean that the far western population of Sussex will at least preserve their local acute medical and A&E services.

KWASH Clinicians

KWASH Chairman Major Tom Wye

THE BATTLE IS NOT OVER YET!

KWASH welcomes many of the recommendations put forward by Sir Graeme Cato but have some major concerns about others.

The question to be asked is “When is an A&E not an A&E”? While Sir Graeme is recommending acute medicine, ITU and A&E at both St Richards and Worthing he is advocating that acute surgery/orthopaedics and consultant led obstetrics be limited to a single site.

Our concerns are that if acute surgery is moved to a single site then patients with appendicitis requiring surgery to remove appendix will have to travel to the single remaining site for treatment, likewise a patient with a broken hip requiring repair. There is no evidence to support the theory that centralizing non specialist, high volume surgery is beneficial for patients.

Stand alone midwifery led units do not have the support of the Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists because of the lack of proven safety. Worthing is an excellent hospital that serves its patients well. It needs its acute surgery/orthopaedics and consultant led obstetrics if it is to continue to provide the level of service the patients in the catchment area require (and deserve).

The loss of any services will de facto be a downgrading. We have the clinicians, we have the facilities. Our elderly population, young mothers and children (especially those living in areas of deprivation) need them to be retained locally.

Major Tom Wye

The KWASH campaign is a cross political party campaign fighting to keep vital health services in Worthing.  The consultants and other clinical staff at Worthing and Southlands Hospitals, and local GPs are also a vital part of the campaign.

The West Sussex Primary Care Trust and the South East Coast Strategic Health Authority have proposed that services such as consultant-led maternity, consultant-led emergency and intensive care are removed from Worthing.

Their public consultation on the plans closed on 14 November 2007.  The KWASH campaign submitted a formal response to the consultation which is available by clicking here (this is a large file, so take care when downloading).

As well as the formal response, the clinicians at Worthing and Southlands Hospitals have submitted an alternative clinical proposal - one that would see vital services retained in Worthing.

A petition with an enormous 129,732 signatures has also been presented to the West Sussex Primary Care Trust chief executive John Wilderspin.

The campaign has been running for around 18-months, and there is still some time until the PCT Board makes its final decisions.  This is likely to be in the spring of 2008.