Outside the marginals

a commentary on the politics that followed the UK 2010 & 2015 elections

Hexham Hospital and A&E – logic defied

Just been to a public meeting about the threat to the A&E service at Hexham Hospital and the problems with the ambulance service.

The situation seems to defy logic.

“We” (that is all of us in the county) are getting a nice brand new specialist A&E hospital to serve the whole county. The trouble is getting there involves a long journey across the county (and Northumberland is one of the biggest counties).

Apparently if you are really really ill you should put off treatment whilst you get dragged an extra 30 miles across the county taking who knows how long?

This means spending longer in an ambulance – yet apparently we don’t need more ambulance capacity – despite being already at full stretch.

This is lunatic logistics!

Hexham to Cramlington (avoiding the Newcastle Hospitals)

Hexham to Cramlington (avoiding the Newcastle Hospitals)

We got a nice new general hospital in Hexham just over ten years ago. It is modern, it is clean and the staff care. It is what we want for 90, 95% of our needs and it is local for Hexham and the nearby towns. It is a bit of a stretch if you live up one of the valleys (Hexham has a large hinterland covering most of West Northumberland) An agricultural or logging injury (or even a difficult labour) out in the sticks already means 40+ minutes or so under blue lights to get to Hexham.

Now it looks as if those of us in Hexham are going to have to look forward to similar journey lengths – and if you are up in the valleys you could be looking at getting on for an hour and a half journey (plus of course the time it takes for an ambulance to get out to you).

The Northumbria Trust are very proud of their new toy and they want us to use it. They have also spent a fortune on it so it would be embarrassing (for them) not to make full use of it.

But if I am “seriously ill” and need urgent medical care, I don’t want to go across the county (tied down to a stretcher in an ambulance trying to dodge the rougher bits of the road). I don’t want care delayed. I may not be able to afford to have care delayed.

I also don’t want to wait for an ambulance – at least not any more than we already have to wait. But if we are being shipped across the county rather than into our local hospital, ambulances are going to spend longer transporting each of us to hospital. Without more ambulances, we will have to wait more.


It looks as if the Hexham facility will be downgraded to a “walk in service”:

We can absolutely reassure local people that walk in A&E services in Hexham will remain in place
Northumbria Specialist Emergency Care Hospital website

We learnt tonight that the pathology lab service at Hexham has already been cutback and is no longer a 24 hour service. So if we are going to have a sudden illness or emergency that requires blood or other testing, we have to be ill during working hours – perhaps we are not expected to “walk in” at night! (We should be getting good at this as we are already expected to only need a GP during the day.) So the Hexham A&E service already appears to be being undermined by this “unannounced service reduction”. It was certainly a shock to some people who rely on the availability of such facilities if they are taken unexpectedly ill.

A line needs to be drawn:

  1. Our local hospital should not be further undermined
  2. Facilities like the pathology service should be restored
  3. Ambulance capacity should be sufficient to get us to hospital without undue delay

Who needs to know?

  • Our MP, Guy Opperman  guy.opperman.mp@parliament.uk
  • Our Councillors (lookup)
  • Chief Executive Northumbria NHS Foundation Trust, Jim Mackey (No public email address on website, actually can’t even find a postal address! Use general webform)
  • Chief Operating Officer Northumbria Clinical Commissioning Group, Julie Ross (No public email address on website, Northumberland CCG, County Hall, Morpeth, NE61 2EF)
  • Chief Executive North East Ambulance Trust, Yvonne Ormston (No public email address on website, North East Ambulance Service NHS Foundation Trust, Bernicia House, Goldcrest Way, Newburn Riverside, Newcastle upon Tyne NE15 8NY )

Single Post Navigation

One thought on “Hexham Hospital and A&E – logic defied

  1. Pingback: Council decision making | Outside the marginals

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: