Surgery transfer row

PUBLISHED: 11:05 17 December 2009 | UPDATED: 17:27 25 August 2010

pic:Simon Hildrew
Vox-pop on closure of Queen Marys A&E

Bexley 17-09-07 pic:Simon Hildrew Vox-pop on closure of Queen Marys A&E

CAMPAIGNERS fear health bosses are closing a hospital through the back door after it was revealed elective surgery due to take will be transferred to a different borough.

CAMPAIGNERS fear health bosses are closing a hospital 'through the back door' after it was revealed elective surgery due to take will be transferred to a different borough.

Under controversial plans by committee A Picture of Health (APoH) Queen Mary's Hospital's A&E in Sidcup was axed but elective surgery was to move to the site to ensure its future.

But the Times can reveal that South London Healthcare Trust (SLHT) bosses are moving elective surgery from the Orpington Treatment Centre, which is closing at the end of the month, to the private patient unit in Princess Royal Hospital in Farnborough (PRU).

Despite SLHT claiming that this is to be 'interim' measure, campaigners believe that it is putting the hospital in jeopardy.

This comes as health chiefs admitted that the QMS A&E, which was closed to overnight emergencies before the department was due to be axed completely at the end of next year, is unlikely to be re-opened.

Bexley councillor Sharon Massey said: "We are not likely to get elective surgery at Sidcup. This creates another wave of uncertainty. Why cannot it just be moved straight to QMS?

"We could be sat here in five years time saying 'can you believe the hospital has closed?

"The thought of not getting elective surgery is frightening. How will the hospital get the money to survive?

"That has been my fear - closing the hospital through the backdoor.

"And they are not likely to cope with it in Bromley.

"It is exactly what we predicted. I wish there was more honesty. APOH has been charade from beginning from end.

"The idea was to get more community services but we have lost our A&E and the Care Trust have cut money to community services.

"In ten to 15 years will QMS be on that site?

"There is not enough funding in the first place. The population is growing.

"APOH was done as a cost-saving exercise."

Last week, the PRUH had to let dozens of people down when it called off their surgery because it couldn't cope the number of patients.

Campaigner Julie Mott, from Orpington, said: "If surgery doesn't go there that could spell the end of QMS. The problems are all intertwined and down to bad management.

"The Trust keeps trying to move all the pieces around with no real plan. It is frightening."

Despite repeated requests, SLHT, was unable to provide the Times with an answer about how many operations were cancelled, or even exactly how many days, but admitted it was likely to be at least dozens.

The hospital blamed the cancellations which took place on December 7 and 8, and possibly on December 9, on an unexpected influx of A&E cases.

A spokesperson for SLHT said: "SLHT is experiencing a high volume of patients at all its A&E departments currently. This situation resulted in the Trust cancelling some elective surgery at PRUH last week in order to free up bed capacity for emergency care.

"We are still using the facilities at Orpington Treatment Centre until December 23. The Treatment Centre will close on this day and will relocate at the Princess Royal site to re-open as a unit on January 4 2010."

SLHT was criticised in the Foster report at the end of November for being unable to provide figures for cancelled operations.

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