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Top medics slam health consultation

PUBLISHED: 16:30 26 March 2008 | UPDATED: 10:25 12 August 2010

DOCTORS at a threatened hospital have condemned a consultation about plans to cut Accident and Emergency, and maternity services.

DOCTORS at a threatened hospital have condemned a consultation about plans to cut Accident and Emergency, and maternity services.

Some 23 consultants at Queen Mary's Hospital, Sidcup, have taken a stand against proposals by committee A Picture of Health (APOH) to downgrade their hospital.

But campaigners say that employees at Princess Royal University Hospital, Farnborough (PRUH) fear a backlash if they join the dissent.

In a letter, sent to APOH and MPs last Sunday, consultants said the public consultation asked leading questions and failed to identify risks.

Dr Andrew Bamji, consultant rheumatologist at Queen Mary's Sidcup, said: "As clinicians we are anxious that our deep unease is heard and responded to.

"We cannot agree to recommend to our patients plans that contain so many omissions and uncertainties, as we would then take the blame for failure."

The case for axing A and E units is also unclear, said Dr Bamji, who is president of the British Society for Rheumatology.

He said: "Whether the closure will generate better or worse care for Bexley is very difficult to work out.

"One has to weigh the risk of travelling further with getting better treatment on arrival. It is very unclear which will come out on top."

He said they saw insufficient evidence to convince them that plans to downgrade services are financially viable and urged other clinicians to come forward with their reservations.

But he said that staff may be fearful of speaking their minds at trusts where there are possible redundancies on the cards.

He said: "If one adopts the same principle as one does with your patients, the bottom line is we have to be honest.

"If we are not quite sure what the diagnosis is we won't tell them they don't have cancer."

After consulting their staff, Bromley Hospitals NHS Trust have responded to APOH proposals urging them to retain the Alan Cumming Day Centre and the Orpington Treatment Centre.

The Trust Board will consider adopting these demands at its board meeting today (Thursday). But health campaigner Sue Sulis, of Bromley Community Care Protection Group, said there is further opposition to APOH's proposals among Bromley Hospitals staff.

She said: "Because of the debts and their recovery plan, it is obviously more difficult for consultants and staff to speak out.

"Their jobs are under threat and so they could be victimised as a result.

"We have been waiting for this - for the genuine voice of clinicians as opposed to the voice that is mediated by the PCT."

A spokesman for APOH said the clinical case for change was based on the consensus of over 100 clinicians in the area.

He added: "It would be inappropriate to comment on the detailed points raised at this stage."

jules.cooper@archant.co.uk

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