MPs fear lives at risk over Coventry hospital service 'loss'

Written by on June 18, 2019

A group of MPs has written to the health secretary over concerns that lives could be at risk if specialist pancreatic and liver services leave Coventry.

The seven fear that instead of the city’s University Hospital, care for local patients could end up being delivered from Birmingham instead.

That, the MPs say, risks greater travel times and cancellation of procedures.

The hospitals say discussions are ongoing about a “shared” service.

The trust running the Coventry site said the regional NHS reviewed specialist pancreatic and liver services in 2015 and recommended Coventry created a combined service with University Hospital Birmingham “using the expertise and facilities of both hospitals”.

But the MPs, who represent Warwickshire constituencies, fear an all-out loss of local services.

“The closure of the service will only result in a reduction in patient access and a decrease in quality of care,” their letter says.

The mix of Labour and Tory members claim that liver transplants, in which they say Birmingham specialises, will take priority because of the urgency required.

That, they say, means patients with other, less urgent conditions, who otherwise would have been treated in Coventry, are set for cancellations.

In the case of pancreatic cancer, they add the illness has low survival rates, with any operation delays further reducing survival chances.

A spokesperson for University Hospitals Coventry and Warwickshire (UHCW) NHS Trust said clinicians at both sites were “determining the best way to meet patients’ needs collaboratively, based on specialist surgical skills available at each hospital, as well as the volume and complexity of clinical cases”.

Among the Warwickshire MPs is Matt Western, Labour member for Warwick and Leamington, who told the BBC he doubted Birmingham had the capacity for additional patients from Coventry.

The trust running the Birmingham site said it had expanded its capacity for liver and pancreatic surgery with a dedicated transplant theatre, allowing for the reduction of elective cancellations.

University Hospitals Birmingham (UHB) NHS Foundation Trust added discussions were ongoing about running a shared service, in line with the recommendations of the NHS West Midlands Clinical Senate and NHS England.

‘Make best use’

Andy Hardy, UHCW chief executive officer said “for pancreatic and liver surgery, we are working in partnership with colleagues at University Hospital Birmingham to deliver a joint model of care involving both hospitals”.

He added: “This will make the best use of NHS resources and expertise for patients across the West Midlands.”

In addition to Matt Western, the letter to Matt Hancock, health secretary, was signed by South Coventry MP Jim Cunningham (Labour); Coventry North East MP Colleen Fletcher (Labour); Nuneaton MP Marcus Jones (Conservative); Rugby MP Mark Pawsey (Conservative); Coventry North West MP Geoffrey Robinson (Labour); and North Warwickshire MP Craig Tracey (Conservative).

Mr Hancock has agreed to meet with MPs after the issue was raised in the House of Commons on Thursday.

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Updates from the Cannock Chase Radio News Desk via BBC Birmingham and Black Country


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