District fears losing health services
FEARS have been voiced that Tendring residents will miss out on vital health services due to lack of funding and centralisation of services.Essex Rivers Healthcare Trust has confirmed that Harwich and Clacton's maternity units do not give value for money in comparison with the main unit based in Colchester General Hospital.
By Annie Davidson
FEARS have been voiced that Tendring residents will miss out on vital health services due to lack of funding and centralisation of services.
Essex Rivers Healthcare Trust has confirmed that Harwich and Clacton's maternity units do not give value for money in comparison with the main unit based in Colchester General Hospital.
Negotiations are under way with Tendring Primary Care Trust (PCT), which commissions the services, to try and agree for it to pay more towards the coastal maternity units.
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At the same time, a review of acute services is being carried out by the East of England Strategic Health Authority (SHA).
Nineteen hospitals are under review, including Colchester General Hospital and the two coastal hospitals in Clacton and Harwich.
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It is feared the minor injuries units at both the smaller hospitals could be incorporated into the accident and emergency in Colchester because the review is looking at doubling-up of services.
The SHA has admitted the financial problems in the region tended to be centred in the smaller hospitals.
And, following a decision last month to close a ward at Clacton Hospital to improve staff-to-patient patios, there are fears the Tendring district could lose more of its services.
But Terry Allen, leader of Tendring District Council, insisted the district's health services should not be transferred elsewhere.
“The population of our area is rising all the time and every year the population goes up. There is a lot of elderly people but also remember we have the highest record of teenage pregnancy in Essex.
“It is tough enough for people going into local hospitals let alone all the way to Colchester.
“We have got this other thing about a ward closing down to make patients and nurses' ratios better, but why not employ more staff? It is ridiculous.”
Mr Allen said the Government claimed to be improving services and making them more efficient but he argued: “All I see it lots of people sitting in waiting rooms and waiting for operations.
“It can be a three-month wait just to see a consultant and in this day and age it should not happen, we are not a Third World country.”
Mr Allen said the council spoke regularly with the strategic health authority, informing them of the local need for services.
A spokesman for Essex Rivers Healthcare Trust said it was in discussion with the PCT about the fact that the coastal maternity units cost more than the PCT was paying for them.
He said the healthcare trust was trying to drive income up and costs down to clear an historic debt of £15.4million.
Lynne Woodcock, director of nursing at the PCT, said it had now received all the information it needed from the healthcare trust to have a discussion and then make a decision about any extra resources.
Regarding the review of acute care, Jayne Ashworth, communications manager for the East of England Strategic Health Authority, said: “The East of England Strategic Health Authority cannot rule out downgrading or closure of any of the 19 hospitals across the counties.
“We are unable to predict what the proposals might be until the review is carried out.”