Concern over Chelmsford hospital project
A MULTI-MILLION pound project to upgrade NHS services in Chelmsford could lead to the loss of 200 beds at the town's hospital, it has been claimed.West Chelmsford MP Simon Burns said last night he was “very concerned” about the future of the £170million scheme, which would be carried out as part of a private finance initiative (PFI).
By Annie Davidson
A MULTI-MILLION pound project to upgrade NHS services in Chelmsford could lead to the loss of 200 beds at the town's hospital, it has been claimed.
West Chelmsford MP Simon Burns said last night he was “very concerned” about the future of the £170million scheme, which would be carried out as part of a private finance initiative (PFI).
He said it was ready for approval a year ago but this had been delayed and the project is now being re-examined by a management consultancy firm.
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He has learned there could be 200 less beds at Broomfield Hospital once the revamp has been carried out - branding the possibility “a nonsense and a disgrace”.
He said: “A year ago we had a multi-million pound all-singing, all-dancing PFI scheme providing extra and better health services.
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“We now seem to be getting potentially a slimmed-down version and, to add insult to injury, we could end up with less beds, rather than more.
“It is a nonsense. It is meant to be a show-piece hospital.”
He said the suggestion did not take into account the rising population and “massive” house building in the area, which he said would bring increased health needs from the local population.
“They have also got to consider that at the moment you cannot walk into Broomfield Hospital and immediately be treated, they have waiting lists,” he added.
A spokeswoman for Mid Essex Hospital Services NHS Trust said yesterday: “We are going through another review and evaluation exercise requested by the East of England Strategic Health Authority.
“We are working with a management consultancy company at the request of the Department of Health to complete the review by the end of this week.
“We may have less beds in the new hospital due to clinical efficiency.
“Patients' lengths of stay in hospital may be shorter, independent treatment centres are moving into Essex where people may go rather than coming to us and more services will be done in the community rather than in hospital.
“The whole scheme is being looked at on the long-term affordability. The number of beds you need in a hospital in the future may change. The whole health service is changing.”
The spokeswoman added that in the future it could not be guaranteed which hospital patients would go to because they were now allowed to choose where they were treated.
A spokesman for the East of England Strategic Health Authority said a review of acute services was being carried out across the region and was not just confined to Broomfield Hospital.
The highlights of the upgraded Broomfield Hospital under the PFI would include a new outpatients' department with breast unit, a new accident and emergency department, new facilities for patients requiring intensive care and new day surgery theatres.
A combined pathology department, a new maternity department, neo-natal intensive care facilities, a new children's department with outside play area as well as a rooftop helipad for air ambulances have also been planned.
Under the proposals, St John's Hospital in Chelmsford would close.