Concerns over ownership transfer of Sidmouth Hospital

PUBLISHED: 11:48 27 September 2010

Dr Mike Slot

Dr Mike Slot


Sidmouth doctor wants more time to discuss future management of Sidmouth Hospital

A SIDMOUTH GP says he is “uncertain” who will own and manage Sidmouth Hospital after March 2011.

Dr Mike Slot, chairman of the Patient Participation Forum of the Sid Valley GP Practice, speaking as a Sidmouth GP, said: “We are afraid of large organisations, not sensitive to local issues, coming in and running it. We would like to have more time to explore options and various suggestions.”

Sidmouth Hospital and six other community hospitals in Devon are currently managed by the Primary Care Trust (PCT).

Dr Slot said the Trust “must divest themselves of all provider services, including hospitals, by the end of March 20112.”

He said discussions were being held in the wake of the publication of Health Secretary Andrew Lansley’s White Paper: Equality and Excellence: Liberating the NHS, which says the NHS will be streamlined, with fewer layers of bureaucracy.

Strategic Health Authorities and Primary Care Trusts will be phased out, PCT’s by April 2013.

Groups of GPs will be given freedom and responsibility for commissioning care for their local communities.

Dr Slot said GPs in the Sid Valley “would like to have more time to explore options and various suggestions.”

He said it was possible one of the big trusts, such as the Royal Devon & Exeter Foundation Trust, might run the hospital, which, like Devon’s six other community hospitals, is affected by the White Paper proposals.

“We feel it is really important that whatever the system of ownership and management is, it is sensitive to the local needs and understands the value that the local community has towards the hospital,” said Dr Slot, who has been with the Blackmore Health Centre practice for 26 years.

“We are afraid of large organisations, not sensitive to local issues, coming in and running it. We would like to have more time to explore options and various suggestions.”

He said the hospital could be run under a social enterprise model and doctors wanted a temporary solution to allow them to explore options more fully.

“We think it is too quick to do anything by the end of March 2011.”

Sidmouth Hospital Comforts Fund has ploughed millions into improving the hospital buildings and facilities and, said its chairman, Graham Vincent: “We will be having a meeting with local GPs quite soon. Until we have more specific information regarding timescales and structure, I feel that further comment at this stage would be inappropriate.”

Dr Slot said he would be amazed if a private company took over the hospital running without doctors knowing about it. They have been told there was a shortlist of people, but he didn’t know who was likely to take it over.

“Theoretically we could consider running the hospital. I have never owned or managed anything with a budget like a hospital and don’t feel we have the expertise to do it.”

He didn’t know if a consortium would manage local hospitals and added: “The outcome I want is for local GPs to continue to admit patients freely to hospital and continue to be responsible for caring for them while they are in there.

“Any solution that makes that more difficult would be a problem for me.

“I don’t really mind how it is done, I am afraid that if an outside organisation takes it on, we might lose some of these freedoms. I think that would be the priority for the average person in Sidmouth.”

Minor operations, day care, terminal care, and blood transfusions are done at Sidmouth Hospital, without the need to send patients to the RD&E, Wonford, in Exeter.

“These are the things I value of that community hospital, that is the thing we can provide. The way we deliver health care is going to massively change over the next 10 years,” said Dr Slot, who is concerned doctors will be blamed in the future if they cannot provide the services patients want.

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