Prince Philip Hospital physicians attack plan on grounds of patient safety
A TEAM of physicians from Prince Philip Hospital have spoken out to "totally oppose" the health board's plans for changes at the site.
Just days before the end of Hywel Dda's consultation into its proposals for a major shake-up of hospital services, the Star received a letter signed by 10 physicians — including consultants — attacking the plans on the grounds of patient safety.
The letter states that physicians currently run "a safe and efficient service for all emergency medical admissions", and that their training of junior medical trainees was the best in Wales 2011 to 2012.
"For this to continue there must be support of a fully functioning CCTU, ITU, HDU as well as on-site emergency radiology and pathology services," the physicians wrote.
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"We believe that the consultation document threatens the safety of this service because of the plans for a nurse-led only emergency department, and we believe it should continue in its current form."
Referring to Professor Marcus Longley's report into hospital reform, the group said the Prince Philip Hospital currently provided all the services recommended, as well as a 24/7 doctor-led A&E.
"No change is needed in this department," they wrote.
"We feel that without doctor support 24/7 in the department there is a significant clinical risk for patients with conditions other than general medical ones.
"Even though there may be protocols in place for the ambulance service, we know many of the patients self-present despite attempts at public education as proved in the recent audit of paediatric attendances to the A&E department.
"This is a major clinical governance issue as the general physicians are not trained in paediatrics, trauma and orthopaedics, and obstetrics and gynaecology.
"If such patients attend a nurse-only minor injuries unit then the only available doctors will be the medical team.
"This is unsafe."
The physicians added concerns around training, claiming that trainees in medical specialities would be seeing non-medical patients.
They concluded by saying: "As a team of physicians we are not prepared to support a nurse-led A&E unit at Prince Philip Hospital as we are not prepared to work outside our area of clinical competence.
"For these reasons we are totally opposed to the proposed changes for a nurse-led A&E on the grounds of patient safety.
"The health board will need to take corporate governance responsibilities if this is forced upon us."
The letter was signed by Phil Avery, Andy Haden, Robbie Ghosal, Lena Izzat, Keir Lewis, Granville Morris, Ian Rees, Sam Rice, Peter Thomas and Meurig Williams.
How the health board responded:
HYWEL Dda chief executive Trevor Purt and chairman Chris Martin issued the following response to the physicians’ letter:
“We are surprised and disappointed that our physicians have chosen to express their views to the media in this way. The health board remains in consultation and this response will be considered, as all others, as part of the formal process.
“We would like to make it clear however that we would not consider unsafe options for our population and there is no expectation that physicians will be required to work outside of their area of expertise.
“As previously stated, we would like to reaffirm that the proposal is for a local accident centre delivered 24/7 by highly skilled, emergency nurse practitioners and supported by consultants via telemedicine video conferencing.
“We would urge readers to look at our factsheet on page 13 of this week’s newspaper which details the services and new developments that will be available at Prince Philip Hospital under our preferred options.”