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Merseyside's specialist hospitals

Date: 16 May 2014 01:10

A new report highlights the impressive clinical outcomes achieved by Merseyside’s specialist hospitals.

The report by the Federation of Specialist Hospitals (FSH) follows NHS England’s plans to reduce the number of providers of specialised services from 270 to 30 or fewer.

The Federation, which represents hospitals including The Clatterbridge Cancer Centre, Liverpool Heart and Chest Hospital and The Walton Centre, is calling for any reorganisation to recognise specialist hospitals’ unique expertise and outstanding outcomes.

The specialist trusts are calling on NHS England to clarify their intentions and they caution against a one-size-fits-all approach, emphasising the need for change to be driven by clinical considerations.

Director of Strategy and Development at The Walton Centre, Stuart Moore said: “We want the focus for any reconfiguration of services to be on achieving the best possible outcome for patients and this report highlights the excellent care being provided by specialist hospitals in both routine and complex services.”

At The Walton Centre, a complex rehabilitation service has been set up for Cheshire and Merseyside, with a new hyper acute rehabilitation ward at The Walton Centre treating patients at a much earlier stage following a traumatic head injury. A new network team co-ordinates a staged pathway of care which includes specialised rehabilitation at Walton and in three ‘spoke’ hospitals and in community settings. It means patients are recovering more quickly and with better outcomes.

Liverpool Heart and Chest Hospital changed the service delivery model for emergency surgery on acute Type A aortic dissection with all elective and emergency aortic surgery being carried out by three surgeons sub-specialising in aortic surgery.  The effect on surgical outcomes has been dramatic with current mortality rates at less than 10 per cent, compared to a rate of 22.8 per cent across Britain.

Specialist hospitals also tend to be more highly rated by patients and staff when asked about the quality of care and patient/staff experience. Liverpool Heart and Chest Hospital was rated the top trust in the country for ‘overall patient care’ in the National Inpatient Survey 2013 – the seventh time in eight years.

The Clatterbridge Cancer Centre achieved the best scores of any hospital in England on six of the areas assessed in the Survey and was rated as one of the top-performing trusts nationally in over 75 per cent of the questions. It is also one of the best-performing trusts nationally on the Friends and Family Test and the National Staff Survey.

Professor Tim Briggs, Chair of the Federation of Specialist Hospitals, said:“The FSH supports the reorganisation of specialised services, where there is a clear clinical rationale focused on providing high quality care.  Reconfiguration of services, should concentrate provision in centres with the best outcomes for the relevant medical specialty, with appropriate sharing of this expertise through networks, rather than seeking to concentrate more services in just a few large hospitals.”

The FSH represents many of the 24 specialist hospitals in the UK, which provide a range of essential NHS services including cardiac, cancer, children’s services, ophthalmology, orthopaedics and ear, nose and throat.  FSH member hospitals contribute significantly to the provision of specialised care and are responsible for managing some of the most complex cases where treatment may not otherwise be available.  They also have a strong record of delivering class-leading outcomes for more routine procedures in their sphere of expertise.