TWO TRUSTS TO BECOME ONE.
By Jane Varker and Marna Blundy
Back in March, before lockdown, one of our members wrote a powerful academic article entitled ‘Do we need two hospital trusts in Cornwall?” - concluding that having only one trust would improve patient care. It was published on his website https://spr4cornwall.net/does-cornwall-really-need-two-nhs-hospital-trusts/ but it got somewhat lost in the huge upheaval caused by COVID-19, as lockdown stopped all social engagement just a week later. However, as we started coming out of lockdown a few weeks ago, and picking up the pieces, we discovered that the two hospital trusts had indeed started taking this matter seriously. It has been talked about for several years, but now at last RCHT and CPFT are planning on doing just that, with hopes of a merger within two years, with one Board. Royal Cornwall Hospitals Trust runs Treliske, St Michaels and West Cornwall Hospital. Cornwall Partnership Foundation Trust runs Cornwall’s mental health services, community hospitals and many community health services. They plan to build new models of care, looking at where our hospitals are and where CT scanning and Xray should be, and to reduce health inequalities in Cornwall and the Isles of Scilly.
We are told that this process is not to save money, or to reduce jobs. There will be no redundancies and staff will be encouraged to upskill, and if they wish to, they will be able to work across both the acute and the community sector. There will be apprenticeships and more in-house training. Hopefully there will be a reduction in the need for agency staff. Transformed models of care will simplify care so that patients only need to tell their story once and, building on the digital transformation experienced through the pandemic, ultimately there will be a single electronic patient record. It will help people to see that we have one NHS, less concerned about who delivers our healthcare, than that our care be seamless, both physical and mental treatments, high quality, prompt and delivered as locally as possible.
We understand that the NHS in Cornwall has been given a lot of money (some £600m) to transform health services in the Duchy. Funding will go to enhancing cancer services, a new women’s and children’s hospital to replace the current maternity hospital at Treliske, and redeveloping Camborne Redruth Community Hospital and re-opening Bodmin Treatment Centre. Treliske will continue dealing with serious cases in its Emergency Department, but minor injuries will be treated elsewhere, with all cases being triaged through ringing 111.
There will be a clear emphasis on more services being delivered in localities, based on Primary Care Networks, which should enable far more appointments and treatment being offered close to or even in people’s homes. GPs and community services will be the foundation of a web of services across Cornwall.