Regions within the sustainability and transformation program have been in conflict over local planning to reconfigure cardiovascular services.
One trust involved in the argument suggested that the ongoing discussion means that “longstanding strong clinical relationships are under threat”.
Frimley Health Foundation Trust, the sole acute provider in the Frimley Health and Care STP, currently provides cardiovascular care for patients referred from the Royal Surrey County Hospital.
This is an acute care provider based in the neighbouring Surrey Heartlands STP area.
Emergency angioplasty is among the services delivered by Frimley Health Foundation Trust that are not available at the Royal Surrey.
But this arrangement is set to change after Surrey Heartlands STP signalled that it will be “conducting a review of cardiovascular services and the flows of activity across its borders”.
This could lead to a repatriation of cardiovascular work in the region.
Yet there is a concern about the established structure in the area being compromised.
“Our concerns are about potentially breaking up an existing network of relationships and replacing with a model that is not led or preferred by the clinicians involved. We expect to make our representations as part of the Surrey Heartlands review,” postman for Frimley health commented.
Frimley Health has been providing cardiovascular care to Royal Surrey patients “for over a decade and has strong clinical support from the Royal Surrey County Hospital to continue”, the board papers noted. “[Surrey] Heartlands STP may wish to promote a shift from Royal Surrey County Hospital to St Peter’s Hospital to keep this activity within the footprint”.
However, the trust believes that alterations in the flow of patients would be opposed by clinicians.
“Now that STPs are the established planning footprint it’s unfortunate that longstandig strong clinical relationships are under threat with two providers that will always be only 13 miles apart no matter what the NHS administrative vehicle of the era looks like. No organisation in the NHS is an island and most hospitals need good external clinical relationships to survive which will often extend beyond the geographical borders of a single STP.”
A spokeswoman for Surrey Heartlands STP suggested that the new process would do nothing to disturb existing working relationships.
“Surrey Heartlands STP recognises the longstanding and effective working relationship between Royal Surrey and Frimley Park who share a joint on-call rota for cardiology, with Frimley Park providing the primary coronary intervention service [a surgical procedure for people who have had a heart attack] for the majority of the Royal Surrey’s catchment population, and there are currently no plans to change this.”