Report of conversation with Mike Pinkerton

by Leon Duveen on 23 May, 2016

As promised in my post on May 11th , here is a report on my conversation last week with Mike Pinkerton, CEO of Doncaster & Bassetlaw Hospital NHS Foundation Trust (DBH)  on why the Trust has had to suspend all Emergency Surgical Admissions at Bassetlaw Hospital.

The simple reason why this service has had to be suspended is that the Trust does not have the 5 Junior Doctors (i.e. Doctors who are not yet Consultants) needed to staff the rota safely.  Because many of the Junior Doctors who would fill these positions are in training, their posts are linked to specific sites meaning they cannot be transferred for other Hospitals in the Trust to fill the gaps in the Rota.  In addition, the Trust has been unable to fill other posts, even after advertising and even after offering above the usual maximum allowed to hire locum (temporary) doctors.

It simply would not be safe to continue to try to provide Emergency Surgical Admissions at Bassetlaw Hospital without the staff so in the interests of patients’ safety, the Trust has reluctantly been force to suspend this service and now all such Admissions will be transferred, mostly to Doncaster.

For once that problem isn’t finance but a shortage of suitable doctors, something that is in fact a national problem so it does not look likely that it will be resolved soon

Mr Pinkerton did point out that some Emergency Admissions were always transferred, such as Neurology & Cardiology patients who are sent to Sheffield & Vascular, ENT & GI (Gastroenterology, Internal) patient who were already being transferred to Doncaster for Emergency Surgery.

He also stressed that only those patients who needed to be admitted for urgent surgery would be affected, about 10 to 14 patients a week, and that if anyone arriving at Bassetlaw A&E too sick to be transferred and needing immediate surgery, a surgical team would be dispatched from Doncaster to Bassetlaw to carry out the surgery in the existing facilities.

We also discussed whether patients would be transferred back to Bassetlaw after their surgery and, unless they are going to have a protracted stay in Hospital or there are extenuating circumstance (elderly partners, etc.), this probably won’t happen as such transferred often cause delays to the patient being discharged.

There are no plans to close A&E at Bassetlaw and assessments for both surgical & medical cases will still happen there.  Any decisions to admit (and transfer if needed) will still take place at our local A&E.  As Bassetlaw is one of the best A&E departments in the country for meeting the 4 hour waiting time target, Mr Pinkerton sees no reason why such a successful unit should close.

In answer to my query (prompted by an email from a resident), Mr Pinkerton also confirmed that these changes will not affect Maternity.

There is however a silver lining to this story.  Because Bassetlaw will no longer need to keep facilities on standby for Emergency Surgery, the Trust is transferring some procedures that up to now have only been done at Doncaster back to Bassetlaw.  Laparoscopic (keyhole) surgery is already being done at Bassetlaw again, after being transferred away some time ago, and the Trust is looking to start doing bariatric (weight loss) surgery as well at Bassetlaw.

I am very grateful that Mike Pinkerton took the time to go through the situation with me and explain it in detail.  I hope this report will help ease some of the fears people had when the first saw the reports in local paper.

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