Chesterfield children face 30 mile trip for some emergency operations

The new changes to emergency out-of-hours operations for children will start from January.
The new changes to emergency out-of-hours operations for children will start from January.

Children in North Derbyshire who need an emergency operation at night or at a weekend will now have to travel to either Doncaster, Sheffield or Wakefield, it has been announced today.

Youngsters will instead have to travel outside of Chesterfield to either Doncaster Royal Infirmary, Sheffield Children’s Hospital or Pinderfield’s General Hospital.

Over the last three years, clinical commissioners and hospital trusts providing services in Chesterfield, Barnsley, Bassetlaw, Doncaster, Rotherham and Sheffield have been reviewing the way emergency operations for children are carried out across the region.

The changes will start to happen from January next year.

Des Breen, consultant anaesthetist and medical director for the Working Together Partnership, said: “As discussed throughout the 19-week consultation period, we’ve been facing a number of issues which mean that we need to change how we provide emergency out of hours operations for children across the region.

“The relatively small number of out of hours emergency operations carried out means that some staff don’t operate on as many children as others and some services don’t meet the standards we all expect to provide.

“Nationally, we don’t have enough expert staff to provide care in all hospitals, all of the time and patients in some areas are having better experiences than others. We also know that we need to change how we work now so that we don’t face more problems in the future.”

Mr Breen added: “This is one of the first times we have really come together to work differently and by working this through with our doctors, we’re supporting local teams to do as many operations as possible in a planned way.

“We’ve listened to the consultation feedback and worked with expert groups of clinicians in the various specialties to identify those children who really will need an operation straight away, with no child receiving anything but the best, high quality care or being transferred unnecessarily.”

Children needing care and treatment for very significant injuries are already taken directly to Sheffield Children’s Hospital. It’s the only major trauma centre able to look after children in the region and this will not change.

Children will be transferred or taken to Doncaster Royal Infirmary, Sheffield Children’s Hospital or Pinderfields General Hospital if they need an emergency, out of hours operation for the following types of surgery:

- Ear, Nose and Throat (ENT) – eg, emergency tonsil removal or blocked airway

- General surgery – eg, appendicitis

- Urology – eg, torsion of the testes

Health chiefs believe that by introducing a ‘managed clinical network’ approach where staff work across organisations, a 24 hour, seven-day-a-week emergency service will be provided for children in specialist hubs with specially trained ambulance crews taking a child to the best place for them in terms of getting the best, most appropriate care.

Will Cleary-Gray, director of sustainability and transformation for South Yorkshire and Bassetlaw, said: “As we’ve worked through how we can best ensure all children in our region receive the best quality, care and outcomes, the conclusion we’ve reached with our doctors is that in most cases, emergency surgery can take place in hours in all local hospitals. Thanks to an agreed networked way of working, which has come out of the review and consultation, it means only a small number of children will be transferred out of hours and on weekends.”

He added: “We’re absolutely committed to having as many services as close to where people live as possible. This includes urgent care.”

For more information on the change, go to: www.smybndccgsnhs.uk