The group behind the potential changes to services at Kettering General Hospital, Healthier Together, has compiled a list of questions which people are asking about the plans.
Have a read and tell us what you think. You can have your say by registering on our website and posting your comments at the bottom of the story.
Myth Healthier Together is just about saving money.
Not true Our first priority is to deliver high quality, safe and sustainable services that offer the best possible outcomes for patients as close to their homes as possible.
However, we must also recognise that the whole of the NHS has been challenged to deliver greater value for money by becoming more efficient.
It’s not solved by employing more doctors and nurses as in many specialist areas there are already shortages of staff across the country.
Myth This is a done deal – you’ve already decided what’s going to happen.
Not true No decisions have been made. We are still developing our detailed proposals. Early next year, through a programme of formal public consultation lasting at least 12 weeks, we will be asking everyone in the South East Midlands to comment on those proposals. There will be no decisions until everyone’s feedback has been taken into account.
Myth You’ve already worked out where these changes will happen – you’re just keeping the locations quiet.
Not true We are still examining the draft strategic models because we need to be confident that we are taking forward the best possible model of care for the population of 1.6 million and rising who live in the South East Midlands. We will not decide location options until we are confident we have the right models of care.
We understand this is very important for local people and are committed to a continuing full and open debate.
Myth Change means we will inevitably have to travel further for treatment.
Not true The draft strategic models say many simpler procedures could be delivered closer to patients’ homes while some more complex, specialist procedures would be concentrated on centres of excellence. That would mean that while some patients would face longer journeys if they require higher levels of specialist care the majority could face the same or shorter journeys as more care is delivered locally.
We believe that the models are consistent with what local people and patients have been telling us – that securing the quality and safety of services is the most important factor. The most important aim is to provide the right level of care in the right place at the right time.
Myth The Healthier Together review will lead to hospital closures.
Not true We are committed to retaining five viable hospital sites providing the bulk of local services.
Myth The Healthier Together programme would lead to fewer hospital beds.
We will need fewer hospital beds because advances in treatment mean that more patients will be able to be treated as day cases or outpatients. Fewer patients would need to be admitted. This will happen with or without the Healthier Together programme.
Myth Healthier Together will lead to job losses.
One of the biggest challenges that our five hospitals face is in recruiting and retaining hospital staff with the right skills and experiences. For example, there is a national shortage of A&E consultants. Hospitals have advertised vacancies but have been unable to attract suitable candidates.
There are national training initiatives in place to bridge the skills gap but this will take up to ten years.
Healthier Together is about making the most of our existing resources. It is not about looking for ways to cut jobs.
Myth These hospitals have been serving their local communities for generations. There’s no real reason for them to change.
Not true for two big reasons.
1 – There are more of us and we are living for longer. Hospitals are already struggling to cope with current demand. We need to look at new ways to meet these challenges.
2 – We need to improve the safety and quality of services in several key areas. For example, none of our hospitals currently meets recommended staffing levels in A&E and maternity. There is strong medical evidence that patients are better served if some specialist treatments are provided by fewer but bigger units.