Closure of Trust breast care service
The sudden and unexpected closure of the breast care service at Southport and Ormskirk hospitals in September has rightly been the subject of considerable public concern.
I attended a public meeting about this issue last Friday morning in Southport and explained my role in establishing the service more than 20 years ago.
I also explained in detail why the Trust was forced to stop breast care because it was unable to recruit a specialist radiologist essential to the safe running of the service.
There is a national shortage of radiologists with an interest in breast care and the Trust spent more than 12 months trying to make an appointment. As there was no prospect of recruiting the appropriate staff, and it was not safe to run the service without two breast specialist radiologists in post, we had no choice but to close the service to new patients.
The opportunity to recruit a radiologist from India who we could not appoint because of difficulty obtaining a visa was also mentioned at the public meeting and in media reports afterwards. However, that candidate was not a breast specialist and their appointment would not have prevented the service’s closure.
Southport and Formby Clinical Commissioning Group, the organisation which oversees the delivery of NHS care locally, will be speaking to patients and other interested groups in the New Year about the range of breast care services that local people can choose from, including those which might be safely run from both of our hospitals, such as outpatient clinics. It is unlikely surgery will continue.
I can assure everyone, however, that treatment services such as chemotherapy provided from the Medical Day Unit at Southport hospital remain entirely unaffected by any of these changes.
|Chief Executive’s Office Southport and Formby District General Hospital
10 December 2014
Tel 01704 704782