Emergency meeting called as all senior doctors at Norfolk hospital slam surgery proposals as ‘unsafe’
PUBLISHED: 07:31 26 November 2018 | UPDATED: 12:52 26 November 2018
All senior doctors at one of the county’s failing hospitals have slammed a proposal to send the sick, including cancer patients, 40 miles away for operations.
An emergency meeting has been called by the Hospital Medical Staff Committee (HMSC) at the Queen Elizabeth Hospital, in King’s Lynn, after clinicians said the idea was unsafe and that all senior doctors opposed the plans.
It comes after patients were reassured they would still be able to have their operations in King’s Lynn, but a leaked memo seen by this newspaper this month revealed a lack of staff may force the move.
The proposal was first put forward in September, after the QEH was judged as inadequate, and were branded a “travesty and disaster” before being dropped.
But the memo revealed the plans may go ahead after all, with patients being sent 40 miles to the Norfolk and Norwich University Hospital (NNUH), which is also in special measures.
Harald Geogloman, a consultant surgeon at the QEH, said: “The reason for the meeting is that all senior doctors at the QEH are opposed to the idea of sending vulnerable patients like cancer patients across Norfolk for their operations.
“This proposal works on the basis that the treating clinicians from the QEH and some of their team equally travel across Norfolk to deliver their operation and care. This is absolutely unsafe and no clinician has agreed to follow this proposal, as we have a duty to protect our patients from harm.
“However, we also plan to discuss better ways of working to get our hospital back on track and fit for future challenges.”
Mr Geogloman said staff felt the proposals were “crazy” as QEH teams would not be familiar with the NNUH theatres, or processes, and would therefore mean a massive risk to safety.
He said: “We don’t believe this really makes sense and all the travelling backwards and forwards, we think there’s a better solution.
“It might make sense to someone who is managing but we are not dealing with wheels which can be fixed anywhere, we are dealing with people and their health.”
The proposal was expected to be discussed at the trust’s board meeting on Tuesday, but a report from chief executive Jon Green, included in the board meeting’s agenda, said: “All proposals are assessed for their impact on patients and will not go ahead if not safe and the risk of taking action must always be assessed against the risk of doing nothing.
“It is because this proposal must go through a thorough checking process that it is not before our November Board. It will, however, come before board as soon as is practicably possible.
“I would like to reassure everyone that the Trust’s only objective is to ensure the safe care of all our patients.”