Heated debate as health chiefs are quizzed on radical hospital reforms

Jackie Bene at the meeting

The Healthier Together panel members are quizzed by taxpayers

Cllr Linda Thomas

Dr Wirin Bhatiani, chairman of Bolton CCG

Steve Jones

Su Long

First published in News
Last updated
This Is Lancashire: Photograph of the Author by , health reporter

HEALTH chiefs faced a heated debate on the impact of controversial proposals to transform hospital services in Bolton and Greater Manchester.

A panel of experts fielded questions from more than 50 people at Bolton University tonight as part of the public consultation on the Healthier Together reforms — which could see the Royal Bolton become one five “super” hospitals in Greater Manchester.

The panel came under fire for the use of “flowery” and “airy fairy” language in the consultation documents.

Questions on hospital bed closures, transport links and the impact on GP services were also raised by concerned tax-payers at tonight’s meeting.

One resident, who only gave his name as Mr Richardson, said: “You ask a lot of questions in this document using very flowery, airy-fairy language with no substance to them.

“It’s information about nothing.”

In response, Su Long, chief officer at Bolton Clinical Commissioning Group, said: "This is about improving the quality of care and reducing the variation across hospitals in Greater Manchester.

“There are different depths of documents available and we have tried to recognise that some people do not want to read lengthy documents.”

Audience member Martin Gallagher added: “We were told that four wards at the Royal Bolton Hospital will close. That’s about 120 beds. Is this true?”

Jackie Bene, chief executive of the Bolton NHS Foundation Trust, said there were plans to reduce the number of hospital beds as part of the trust’s five year efficiency plan — but stressed bed closures were separate from Healthier Together.

Panel members went on to reassure the audience that no A&E departments or hospitals would close as part of the proposals.

They said the chief aim is to improve the outcomes of high risk general surgery.

Currently people are more likely to die in the evenings and at weekends because hospitals do not have enough staff.

Dr Wirin Bhatiani, chair of Bolton CCG, told the audience he was “not happy” with the standards of health care being offered to patients at present.

He added: “We cannot afford not to do this. We are now seeing a different type of patient compared to 15 years ago.

“I now see people who are living longer with multiple conditions. The whole population has changed. If we continue to treat people in the same way we did 15 years ago, the whole system would collapse.”

Oldham, Salford or Manchester Royal Infirmary have already been earmarked as specialist centres.

The Royal Bolton is vying with Wigan for specialist status.

Dr Bene said: “I believe in the principles of Healthier Together and would like to see Bolton carry out these specialist services.

“We have a very busy A&E and our women and children’s department is extremely busy too.”

The consultation ends on September 30.

To complete a questionnaire, go to healthiertogethergm.nhs.uk.

Comments (3)

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8:53am Wed 3 Sep 14

SusanTM says...

Brilliant that at least 50+ people turned out for the event and asked good challenging questions both about the consultation and its information and about the variety of health plans and changes that are affecting Bolton. I support changes that will save more lives and reduce levels of disability long term after care. I will join any campaign to save the NHS.
Brilliant that at least 50+ people turned out for the event and asked good challenging questions both about the consultation and its information and about the variety of health plans and changes that are affecting Bolton. I support changes that will save more lives and reduce levels of disability long term after care. I will join any campaign to save the NHS. SusanTM
  • Score: -1

12:47pm Wed 3 Sep 14

Trotter2 says...

You must be a speed reader, or easily satisfied. Try reading the "case" online, it's impossible. This is the worst consultation I have ever seen. "Do you want the best healthcare?" No, we all want the worst! What an insult to anyone's intelligence! If that's the best they can do, how can anyone have faith in what they propose?
You must be a speed reader, or easily satisfied. Try reading the "case" online, it's impossible. This is the worst consultation I have ever seen. "Do you want the best healthcare?" No, we all want the worst! What an insult to anyone's intelligence! If that's the best they can do, how can anyone have faith in what they propose? Trotter2
  • Score: 4

8:10pm Wed 3 Sep 14

SusanTM says...

I should have been clearer. I was pleased to read that the audience challenged the panel about the consultation and the information that you describe as impossible to read and make good sense of or be satisfied with.
I should have been clearer. I was pleased to read that the audience challenged the panel about the consultation and the information that you describe as impossible to read and make good sense of or be satisfied with. SusanTM
  • Score: 1
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