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Warrington Hospital facing significant challenges


WARRINGTON Hospital chief Mel Pickup says it is important to be open about the “significant challenges” being faced over the next five years due to financial constraints.

She was responding to comments from the town’s two MPs, Warrington North MP Helen Jones, who has hit out at any plan to move the hospital to the south of the borough and Warrington South MP David Mowat, who has expressed surprise at a new project which doesn’t currently feature in the regional Sustainability & Transformation Plan (STP).

As well as discussions about relocating the hospital, Warrington’s A&E unit is also one of 24 across the country earmarked for closure or downgrading.


Mel Pickup

Ms Pickup said: “Any proposals to change A&E services would have to have a strong clinical evidence base and demonstrate a positive impact in terms of quality, safety and sustainability. They would also be subject to public engagement and consultation.”

“At this stage, ideas are at a formative stage, based on input from clinicians and staff. It is important that we are open about the significant challenges we will face over the next five years in tackling poor health, improving quality and ensuring these services are sustainable in a period of financial constraint.

“All proposals that will emerge from the STP seek to address these challenges, including the future design of urgent and emergency care.”

But Warrington South Mp David Mowat, who is a junior health minister, said: “It’s odd that the Trust are embarking on a new project which isn’t mentioned in the regional Sustainability & Transformation Plan – which will be the blueprint for NHS services in the area.

“The direction of travel for the NHS is to move care into the community which is entirely different to moving hospitals.”

Meanwhile Professor Steven Broomhead, chairman of the Warrington health and wellbeing board, said: “We welcome our local hospital beginning a conversation on the need to invest in state of the art hospital and health facilities.

“We will work in partnership with the hospital to ensure we have the full range of facilities a growing town such as Warrington needs and deserves.

“This will mean the development of a business case and agreed capital funding for such a new facility either at the current hospital site or at an accessible location. We will discuss this at the next meeting of the board.”

Warrington North MP Helen Jones has described any plan to move the hospital to the south of the borough as “outrageous” and “unacceptable”.

She said: “This plan is outrageous and would massively disadvantage my constituents in Warrington North. This would create a Warrington Hospital which would be inaccessible for most of Warrington.

“I will do everything in my power to oppose these plans. Whilst a new hospital building would be welcome, it would need to be at a site which is accessible to the majority of the town. This proposal would benefit rural Cheshire much more than Warrington.


About Author

Experienced journalist for more than 35 years. Managing Director of magazine publishing group with six in-house titles and on-line daily newspaper for Warrington. Experienced writer, photographer, PR consultant and media expert having written for local, regional and national newspapers. Specialties: PR, media, social networking, photographer, networking, advertising, sales, media crisis management. Patron Tim Parry Johnathan Ball Foundation for Peace. Trustee Warrington Disability Partnership. Former Chairman of Warrington Town FC.


  1. The reactions of our two MPs, whatever your political allegiances, is understandable. Ms Pickup’s reported comments are symptomatic of the Kings Fund’s findings on the NHS’s STP proposals:
    #1 “One of the biggest challenges facing local leaders is that STPs are being developed in an NHS environment that was not designed to support collaboration between organisations. [Or those most affected – my emphasis]”
    #2 “local leaders have found it difficult to meaningfully involve all parts of the health and care system…in developing the plans. The involvement of local authorities has varied widely between STP areas, ranging from strong partnership between the NHS and local government to almost no local government involvement at all. Patients and the public were largely absent from the initial stages of the planning process.”
    Since STPs are intended to create a collective local endeavour and incorporate care in the community into their ambit, it would have been sensible and productive for the long term plans for Warrington and its surrounding areas to have been discussed inclusively with all those it will affect, rather than keeping some at arms length and others in the dark.

    • It’s an interesting and valid proposition POSITRON which is why the CEO merely suggested to the assembled members of the Health Overview and Scruity Committee that perhaps it was time for the start of the conversation to which I think you are alluding in #2. Quite simply to put a concept out there about which the whole of Warrington it’s people and its key partner stakeholders can engage in and contribute to shaping, if they chose to do so, at a stage at which there are no pre ordained plans, timescales, locations under any consideration. Where is a debate like that supposed to start, if not with the elective representatives of the town, and the leaders and representatives of the key stakeholders engaged in the delivery of health and social care?

      • The problem the people of Warrington face is that the intentions and effects of STPs are being made known belatedly and in piecemeal fashion. Not everyone has/had heard of this change to five year planning periods for the NHS, (hopefully they will be more beneficial than former Soviet five year plans), let alone the detail of their intentions. Without wishing to conflate two separate but related issues, the manner in which the intentions of STPs is being announced here will cause concern and therefore engender resistance. Not, I suggest, the best way to engage with and encourage public support.
        Firstly, Ms Pickup said our existing hospital should be replaced with a new “state-of-the-art” one at an unspecified location. No linkage to or of Area 8’s five year plan was mentioned. Moreover, this announcement was made all the while beds/wards/facilities were/are being closed here and at Halton during a winter period with all the increases in hospital admissions etc. that brings.
        This elicited public concern and differing responses from our two MPs:
        David Mowat expressed surprise the new s-o-t-a hospital was not in the STP programme for this area. Note: this was the first local public indication of such a programme.
        Helen Jones was concerned at the impact over access and travel problems it would pose for her constituents. Whilst stressing the need to keep Warrington Hospital where it is.
        Roughly about the same time David Mowat received adverse comment for suggesting we “should care for our dependents at home”. When doing so he made no mention that STPs incorporated a care in the community component.
        It was only AFTER the public criticism by both MPs that Ms Pickup said “it is important to be open about the “significant challenges” being faced over the next five years due to financial constraints”, and in so doing comment on the local impact of STPs.
        As the King’s Fund has commented: “Despite some recent attempts to explain STPs in plain English, there is a significant communications challenge in engaging the public in the rationale for STPs and what they mean for them. An urgent priority is to proactively involve staff, patients and the public – as well as politicians, local authorities and the third sector – in further developing and implementing STPs.”

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