A RETIRED specialist has slammed proposals to “destroy” the vital day surgery service at a community hospital.
NHS bosses are currently considering whether to cut procedures under general anaesthetic from the new £72 million East Lothian Community Hospital, which will incorporate facilities from Roodlands Hospital and Hermandflat Hospital, both in Haddington.
It takes years to build up a team that functions as well as this group. Now it is proposed to destroy this service at the stroke of a pen.Robin Sellar
More than 300 people have signed a petition to save surgical services at the facility, which are currently under review.
Professor Robin Sellar, an honorary consultant neuroradiologist at Edinburgh University, claimed the board has not sought proper medical advice on the plans.
After watching a series of surgeries there last week, Prof Sellar praised the team and questioned why the excellent service was to be stopped.
He said: “What was most evident in the operating theatre was the ‘esprit de corps’ of that team working in Roodlands. Everyone was committed to the cause of helping these patients and the attitude in theatre was very focused on excellence.
“It takes years to build up a team that functions as well as this group. Now it is proposed to destroy this service at the stroke of a pen.”
Health chiefs insist that no decisions have been made and extensive consultation was under way with both residents and medical professionals.
Prof Sellar added: “£70m plus has been earmarked for the new Roodlands Hospital.
“I would suggest that NHS Lothian think a little bit harder on how that precious money is spent. I suspect if they were to consult the good people of East Lothian, the day-case surgery service is one they value highly.”
Closing the service would be an “unacceptable” blow to the people of East Lothian after long delays to the opening of the new hospital, said Labour MSP Iain Gray.
He said: “It makes no sense. When we get a new hospital surely that should mean more services, not less.
“For my constituents in East Lothian, travelling to the Edinburgh Royal Infirmary or even St John’s for day surgery is an incredible inconvenience.
“I’ve been campaigning locally to make it clear to the NHS that any actions to stop day services would be unacceptable.”
Construction is anticipated to start on the project later this year, which will increase the number of inpatient beds in East Lothian, according to NHS Lothian.
Jim Crombie, chief officer of acute services at NHS Lothian, said: “The new hospital will bring a significant number of services back to the county, meaning more people can be treated closer to their homes in the future.
“No final decisions have been taken on this matter, however a group is being established which will bring together our clinical and leadership experts including surgeons, anaesthetists, endoscopists and theatre nurses, as well as union colleagues.
“This group will then make recommendations, likely in late spring, as to how best we can deliver sustainable surgical services to people in East Lothian.
“The views of local people are extremely important to any decisions we take and we will continue to engage with them as we move ahead with this process.”