The future for local health services

Straight on to meet David Sloman, Chief Executive at the Whittington. His issues are around the Health Strategy for London which will begin on 11th July and the Whittington’s own move towards foundation status. This is a bit different from Fortismere’s problems – firstly it is mandatory as the Government as decreed that all hospitals must do this within the next few years. What the Whittington gets out of it is the ability to plan for the long term, revised engagement in terms of real community voices in decision-making, legal and financial freedom. I will consult with colleagues on this in due course.

On the London-wide strategy: some of it seems ok – like stroke victims and heart attack victims going straight to special centres – so long as there are enough in London (i.e. not just shipping people miles away, especially as the first hours are so vital). The local community hospitals like the Whittington are fine too.

Where the battle lines will be drawn – and this refers back to what I said about Hornsey Hospital and the proposed polyclinics. For example – there will be something like five or six in Haringey each serving up to 50,000 residents and will provide super-duper clinics, diagnostics, etc etc. However, it will only financially be viable if they bring in our local GP practices to operate from there. Now – I wouldn’t mind if they swept up the individual single-handed or two men doctor practises and put them in there – that would be improving the service – but I bet they will be after our other practices and I don’t think the community will want to have the normal visit to their doctor that doesn’t require other services moved away from the local.

Maybe I am wrong. We do want after hours services which would be provided on such a site – but I though that the huge hike in doctors pay and contracts was to create extra provision. Ain’t seen nothing yet! So I suspect that may prove controversial. Polyclinics – great – but don’t take away local GP practices.