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Save Trafford General bids to save birthplace of NHS
8:00am Thursday 17th January 2013 in News
THE final decision on controversial plans to reorganise services at Trafford General - including downgrading the accident and emergency (A&E) department - looks set to be made by the Government.
A powerful town hall committee, made up of councillors from both Trafford and Manchester, is to refer the 'new health deal' for Trafford programme to the secretary of state for health, Jeremy Hunt.
The Save Trafford general Campaign chairman, Matthew Finnegan, hailed the move: “This is a huge step forward for our campaign in halting the plans to close A&E and other services at Trafford General, by putting the final decision in the hands of the Government."
But health boss Dr Nigel Guest, the chief clinical officer of Trafford Clinical Commissioning Group, warned: "Delays caused by referral to the secretary of state will put considerable pressure on the delivery of health services in Trafford."
Mr Finnegan and Dr Guest spoke out after Trafford and Manchester's joint health scrutiny committee said on Monday evening that the proposal for Trafford General should be delayed and form part of a planned Greater Manchester-wide reorganisation of the NHS - the 'Healthier Together' blueprint.
But. despite the stance of the scrutiny committee, the board that oversees the new health deal - the Trafford Strategic Programme Board (TSPB) - gave its final seal of approval to the proposed health shake-up on Tuesday.
Now the scheme will go to the NHS Greater Manchester meeting on January 24. It will be referred to Mr Hunt if that committee gives it the final green light.
The proposed changes for Trafford General - the birthplace of the NHS - include turning the A & E department into an urgent care centre which will only open between 8am and midnight.
Intensive care and the paediatric observation and assessment unit would also be closed, and emergency surgery would no longer be carried out at the hospital.
Health bosses claim the revamp is vital to address 'pressing clinical and financial issues'.
But more than 12,500 people signed a petition that was delivered to Downing Street by the Save Trafford General group in October protesting at the proposals.
The scrutiny committee wants the plan delayed because it is concerned with issues including the impact on Wythenshawe Hospital of the downgrade of Trafford's A&E department; the consultation process; has doubts over the clinical evidence for downgrading A&E; and transport issues.
On Tuesday, the TSPB considered the scrutiny committee's views in detail - but members said they were satisfied all the issues had been addressed.
Health chiefs say the changes are vital to address 'pressing clinical and financial issues' - which include the Trafford services costing £1.5m more than the funding available.
Dr Nigel Guest, who is a voting member on the TSPB, told Messenger after the meeting: "While recognising the concerns of the scrutiny committee we believe that there has been a robust process of consultation recognising the clinical and financial imperative to reconfigure the services in Trafford.
"We have promised to satisfy several conditions prior to implementation - and believe these will ensure the provision of safe and sustainable services for Trafford residents."
Save Trafford General's Mr Finnegan said: "“We have been campaigning for almost two years against these plans which are driven by cost-cutting and the convenience of clinicians and are not in the best interests of local people.
“The campaign will now be set on persuading the Government to save the birthplace of our NHS and to protect local hospital services for local people.
“The buck now stops with Jeremy Hunt – we intend to step up the campaign to Save Trafford General and make sure we bring as much pressure as possible on the Government.”