HEALTH chiefs have rejected a call to delay any decisions on the future of services at Trafford General until after a Greater Manchester-wide review of the NHS is completed.
Campaigners fighting to save the A&E department and other services at Trafford General claimed the public consultation into the proposals should be halted.
Stretford and Urmston MP Kate Green is also to meet with NHS managers this week to voice her concerns. She says that changes should not be made to Trafford General 'in isolation'.
But health bosses say the public consultation - due to end on October 31 - will proceed as planned and they insist that "any future plans for Greater Manchester services will not compromise the proposed future direction and proposed services for Trafford General Hospital."
Major changes proposed for the hospital - the birthplace of the NHS - under the New Deal for Trafford include turning the A & E department into an urgent care centre, closing intensive care and the paediatric observation and assessment unit, and no longer carrying out acute surgery.
Health chiefs have also begun pre-consultation discussions on healthcare across Greater Manchester on the 'Healthier Together' review, which is looking at health and social care. They stress, though, that no plans or proposals have yet been drawn up. These could be developed by the spring and public consultation could follow that.
A Healthier Together document says that change is needed because current services were designed to meet the needs of the last century. The proposals for change may involve 'more services being provided in primary care, the community and at home."
But Matthew Finnegan, chairman of the Save Trafford General campaign group, claims this review means that the Trafford proposals should be halted.
He said:"It makes no sense at all for Trafford to be treated separately and differently from the rest of Greater Manchester.
"If health commissioners are serious about looking properly at the future of the NHS in this area, then they need to make Trafford part of that overall review.
"The Trafford consultation is already deeply flawed. To proceed with its proposals when there is a giant question mark over the future of the NHS in Greater Manchester would be totally baffling, incoherent and biased. They should stop it now and ensure that Trafford is a central part of the pending review of NHS services in Greater Manchester.
"Otherwise it will look like health commissioners are desperately trying to bounce the people of Trafford into changes which no-one wants."
And MP Ms Green said: “The first question in my mind is 'What does this mean for Trafford'?
"I’m a strong supporter of integrated health services and more healthcare in the community, and when there’s an emergency, I want my constituents to be able to access the best available care.
"The NHS can’t just propose changes for Trafford in isolation from what’s going on in the rest of Manchester.
"I’ll be meeting NHS managers later this week for urgent discussions about what these revelations mean for my constituents.”
Leila Williams, director of service transformation for NHS Greater Manchester, said: “Doctors in Trafford have stressed the urgency of redesigning services at Trafford General Hospital in order to ensure they remain safe. It is right therefore the consultation proceeds and ultimately a decision is reached to safeguard the future of the hospital. The proposal for Trafford General identifies a clear and strong future and it is envisaged it will play a full part in providing health and social care for local residents.
"The Healthier Together programme is in its earliest stages and proposals for the future of health care delivery have not yet been developed. However, the process is taking on board everyone’s views, listening to any concerns and most importantly, understanding how people want their healthcare delivered in the future.”
NHS Trafford has arranged two additional public consultation meetings.
These are being held at Old Trafford Community Centre on October 22 at 10am – 12noon; and St. Anne’s Community Centre in Stretford on October 23, 10.30am – 12.30pm.