A senior member from the group that will be responsible for buying healthcare for the county has backed the controversial Healthier Together proposals.
Speaking at last week’s Northamptonshire NHS AGM, Darin Seiger, GP chair of Nene Commissioning, backed the proposals despite the plans raising fears that Kettering General Hospital could see its services downgraded.
But Dr Seiger said that change is needed in the future.
He said: “We know the way that emergency services are configured - they were configured 50 years ago.
“They are not going to sustain us for the next 50 years.
“If you concentrate specialist services to specific sites patients will get a better outcome.
“To some extent it is already happening now. Northampton General is the hyper-acute centre for strokes.
“If you suffered a stroke in Corby, you would be transferred for Northampton.
“If you put these specialist centres in every hospital then you spread the expertise too thinly.”
The Healthier Together proposals could see A&E and maternity services at two hospitals out of Kettering, Northampton, Luton, Milton Keynes or Bedford downgraded.
Fears have grown so widespread in the county that more than 1,500 concerned residents have signed a Save our Hospital petition started by Corby’s by-election candidate Andy Sawford, who wants more transparency over the proposals that could affect Kettering General Hospital.
But Healthier Together claims it has not decided which locations will have their services changed yet.
New GP group Nene Commissioning will take full responsibility for the health of the county, except Corby, which will be the responsibility of separate group Corby Healthcare, from next April.
NC has divided its area into eight localities’, including Kettering, Wellingborough and East Northamptonshire, with a GP from each making up the commissioning group’s board.