Date Published: 18 September 2006
British Medical Association (BMA) does not support mass hospital closures
The BMA does not back plans for mass hospital closures contrary to reports in the weekend's press.
Mr James Johnson, chairman of the BMA said:
“The BMA has not given its backing, or signed up to Government plans to close up to 60 hospital departments across England. There have been no discussions with Government or the Royal College of Physicians on such plans.
_ It is right that we have a public debate about the way our health services are delivered in the future, but any reconfiguration of services, if that is what is needed, must be properly planned and should involve the views of local clinicians and patients.
_ The way health care is delivered is changing all the time. There are new techniques and treatments which mean patients can receive their care in different ways and new European laws regulating the number of hours that doctors can work.
_ Large hospitals have a wide range of specialist services to ensure patients with the most complex needs have access to the best possible care. However, it is becoming more difficult for smaller hospitals to provide a comparable range of comprehensive services. It therefore makes sense to review the range of services available in each hospital serving particular geographical areas.
_ There are real fears that closing an A&E department will lead to other services being taken away, eventually leading to a complete hospital closure. This must not be allowed to happen. Smaller hospitals could continue to provide facilities for patients with minor injuries, carry out planned surgery and deliver intermediate care. While the larger hospitals, with a full-range of specialist services, can deal with the more seriously ill patients.
_ Any changes to our hospital services must be based on delivering the highest possible care for patients. Reconfiguration to suit political needs or decisions based solely on cost would be completely unacceptable. Above all, we must ensure that patients have a say on how best to deliver health services in local communities.
Source: British Medical Association, UK