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.
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.