A LEADING councillor has said he is reassured hospital bosses are balancing ground-breaking specialist work with the needs of hospital patients.
It comes after concerns about the quality of care for patients requiring routine hospital treatment were spelt out in a report by two senior public health directors.
The paper highlights fears of patients’ needs being forgotten in the rush to develop new treatments and specialist services.
And it calls on the newly created Oxfordshire University Hospitals NHS Trust to focus on improving nursing standards and hospital experience for local people, as it pushes ahead with plans to become a foundation trust.
The report by Oxfordshire Director of Public Health, Jonathan McWilliam and John Jackson, director of social and community services, was submitted to Oxfordshire County Council Cabinet.
It warns: “There is widespread concern in Oxfordshire that the more specialist work receives greater attention than the more routine district general hospital work.
“This was reinforced by the criticisms of the Care Quality Commission in 2011 of the failure to meet all the essential standards of quality and safety at the Churchill, Horton and John Radcliffe.
“The people of Oxfordshire are much more likely to be affected by the more routine work either as patients themselves or as the family and friends of patients who need that care.”
The report says that 60 per cent of the trust’s income comes from traditional district general hospital work, mainly for the people of Oxfordshire – with the rest coming from specialist health care and through medical research carried out with Oxford University.
The report and the county council cabinet, however, went on to support the OUHT application to become a foundation trust, on the basis it was committed to “the highest medical and nursing standards, more care in the community and working in partnership with the rest of the NHS and local government”.
Arash Fatemian, county cabinet member for adult services, said: “The specialist work does a lot to attract investment, we just wanted to make sure we had reassurance we would not lose the day to day services.
“We have now had that commitment.”
Prof Edward Baker, medical director at the OUHT, said: “The specialist services that we have in Oxford, and in Banbury, bring important opportunities for the local population. It means if you have a heart attack, for example, you will still receive the best care in the country. The same is true for strokes, cancer and orthopaedic services. The majority of people who use these services are local patients.
“But it does not mean that we forget bread and butter services such as accident and emergency.”
Trust chief executive, Sir Jonathan Michael, in a letter to County Hall said: “We do not make a distinction between local services and specialist services. We recognise that we can only fulfil our wider role as a major teaching hospital if that role is based on the foundations of providing high quality local services for local people”