Telford's International Centre should be used to treat outpatients, former hospital boss says
Outpatients should be treated at Telford's International Centre to help keep demand under control amid the coronavirus outbreak, the former chief executive of Telford's Princess Royal Hospital has claimed.
David Sandbach has suggested the venue has plenty of free car parking, is close to a bus and railway station and has sufficient room to accommodate clinics.
It comes after it emerged some outpatients across Birmingham and Solihull are set to be treated at the NEC instead of their usual hospitals.
Health bosses plan to work through a backlog of appointments, caused by the pandemic, and more easily allow social distancing.
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None of the provisions are connected to the NEC's nightingale hospital.
Mr Sandbach has written to health commissioners and hospital bosses in the county to suggest there should be such a venue in Shropshire.
He says Telford's International Centre could be used to make sure the "demand for outpatient services is kept under control".
And that with the potential for a second wave of coronavirus, the NHS will need to "pull all the stops out to make sure the level of service does not drop to a very low level".
Mr Sandbach said: "Unless the clinical commissioning groups and Shrewsbury and Telford Hospital NHS Trust (SaTH) do something quickly it is quite possible that by the end of the financial year there will be 20,124 fewer GP referrals to SaTH and 12,228 fewer first outpatient appointments.
"This is all on top of the current backlog of patients who have been waiting for an outpatient appointment since January.
"People die of Covid-19 in two ways. Firstly as a direct result of the virus and secondly as a consequence of the virus which stops people accessing hospital-based diagnostic and inpatient care for other life-threatening conditions.
"This fact of life was brought home to me last week when I attended an outpatient clinic, outside Shropshire, and I was told the number of new patients listed for the clinic had been reduced by almost 50 per cent mainly because of social distancing standards and the size of the clinic space available.
"There is a major threat to public health in Shropshire if the level of morbidity – i.e. suffering from diseases or medical conditions builds up in the community, and the outpatient service cannot keep up with the demand.
"One consequence of such a situation will be a hike in the demand for clinical services from A&E as people get more and more ill.
"Given the A&E service in Shropshire is not as good as it should be this could spell disaster."
He added: "Too many people have suffered because of Covid-19, and the local NHS leadership owe it to the population to make sure any further unnecessary suffering as a consequence of Covid-19 is eliminated forthwith.”
Steve Trenchard, executive director of transformation for Shropshire, Telford and Wrekin Clinical Commissioning Groups, said: “In the early stages of the pandemic the Telford International Centre was approached by the CCG but could not commit to longer term availability which was required for use throughout the pandemic.
"As a result other options for delivering services have been explored.”
He said NHS organisations and councils in the county are working together to try and restore some services that were temporarily stopped, slightly altered or that moved location following the outbreak of coronavirus.
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