It’s something we’re all familiar with in our own lives and it’s now becoming a way of life for the NHS as well.
For across the NHS, resources are getting stretched and clinicians are constantly thinking of new ways of providing the quality health services you expect and deserve.
Here in Doncaster we’ve linked up with seven nearby health areas to look at how we can work together and collectively provide some hospital services across a wider geographical area than currently exists. Those partner areas are Barnsley, Bassetlaw, Hardwick, North Derbyshire, Rotherham, Sheffield and Wakefield.
We’re not sure how it’s going to happen yet, it’s very much in its infancy and we want to involve the public in shaping any changes, but we’re initially focussing on children’s surgery and anaesthetic services. These are services provided for children from birth to 19 years of age.
Currently, there are variations across the eight areas on how quickly a child would need to wait for, say, having their tonsils removed.
Why’s that? There are several reasons. Some hospitals are having problems recruiting specialist healthcare workers and the number of doctors coming through the country’s medical schools is expected to drop by nearly 50 per cent by next year.
Added to this, some doctors working at smaller hospitals may not carry out as many operations as their colleagues working at bigger ones, so they may not be able to maintain their skills levels. And new rules designed to make sure doctors don’t work excessive hours have also impacted on waiting times for children’s surgery.
This all means that we will have to do things differently in the future in order to provide care that’s safe, fair and lasting.
Doctors, nurses and heath care experts agree that going on as we are isn’t an option. Nor can we centralise all children’s surgery as no hospital in Doncaster or in any of the seven other areas has the physical space to handle it all.
This means we have to look at how we can best utilise the NHS’s resources across a wider geographical area than just Doncaster. Our pledge is to provide local care where possible and regional care where necessary.
As I mentioned earlier, any potential changes would take place only after consulting with people like you. Over the next couple of months we are starting that process by asking parents, carers and young people in the Doncaster area what would be important to you if your child, or a child you know, needed surgery? What would help and reassure you?