08:12 Wednesday 13th March 2013
Bigger Breakfast Show
BBC Radio Cambridgeshire
[P]AUL STAINTON: Now there are accusations this morning that Peterborough City Hospital just isn’t big enough. The claims by Unison follow the cancellation of 38 operations this week due to a shortage of beds. It’s not just Peterborough City Hospital that’s affected. It’s Addenbrookes too that says that due to an exceptionally busy Emergency Department earlier this week, 37 operations have had to be rearranged. Well Phil Green is the Regional Organiser for Unison. He says that Peterborough Hospital is not fit for purpose. (TAPE)
PHIL GREEN: The Peterborough City Hospital was always built too small. And considering the cost of it that’s unforgivable really. We said at the time that the Hospital was going to be too small, that being funded by PFI it was going to cost far too much. And we said again the same recently. .. (LIVE)
PAUL STAINTON: We’ve got Dr Peter Reading, Interim Chief Executive at Peterborough and Stamford Hospitals with us right now. Let’s get to the bottom of this. What is going on? Because that’s not acceptable, is it?
DR PETER READING: What’s happened over the last few days is not acceptable, and can I begin by apologising to every patient who’s has their operation cancelled. I think the patients you’ve interviewed describe very well the stress and inconvenience and worse which patients suffer from having operations cancelled, and we deeply regret each one. And we work incredibly hard to try to avoid cancelling if we possibly can. But we have had to cancel 50 operations over the last three days. The reason we’ve done it is because we have to put first patients who have emergency or life-threatening conditions. And what we’ve had over the last several weeks has been building up, and it got particularly bad over the weekend and into Monday, is a substantial increase in the number of emergency patients. Also the patients we’re seeing at the moment and who are in our beds, to be honest, are more ill than has historically been the case. We think this is probably to do with the aging of the population. These are mostly very elderly patients or patients with various long term conditions.
PAUL STAINTON: You can’t have it both ways though Peter, because you told me a few weeks ago that the reason the Hospital was so far in debt is because you weren’t treating enough patients. When you get a lot of patients, you’re saying you haven’t got enough beds. Something doesn’t add up.
DR PETER READING: Well, on Monday, when we were under particular pressure and we cancelled 20 operations, one in twelve of our beds was occupied by patients who didn’t need to be there, who were waiting for discharging into social care in Peterborough, Cambridgeshire, Rutland or Lincolnshire, or into community services. And the problem we faced over the weekend and are still facing at the moment is that the health and social care system, the NHS and social services, across the patch we serve, which as you know goes well into Lincolnshire and Rutland and Northamptonshire as well as Cambridge and Peterborough, the system doesn’t have enough services to provide the sort of care that people need. And what happens is that people end up staying in hospital much longer than they should do, which isn’t good or them, it’s not good for the system.
PAUL STAINTON: So it’s not the Hospital’s fault. It’s not .. Sorry Peter. Let me get to the nub of this. You’re saying it’s not the Hospital’s fault. You’re saying the Hospital’s fine. It’s the support services’ fault at the moment. It’s not the fact that Peterborough Hospital’s not big enough.
DR PETER READING: We’re part of a complicated system which involves care homes, social services, GP surgeries and so on. And the fact is that overall the system hasn’t been able to cope.
PAUL STAINTON: So it’s not that you haven’t got enough beds.
DR PETER READING: Well I think Unison are raising an interesting question, and as you know we have at the moment, sent in by Monitor our regulator, a large team from Price Waterhouse Cooper, who are looking at the long term financial future of the Hospital, and trying to find solutions for that. And one of the questions I specifically asked them to look at is whether actually the number of beds we had was the right number, in terms of efficiency and also in terms of the number of patients who are coming in. Because since the Hospital opened we have attracted patients from much further afield than before. We’re attracting far more patients from Rutland and Northamptonshire, and particularly from Lincolnshire. And that is putting additional pressure on the services we have at the moment.
PAUL STAINTON: Was it ever big enough, Peterborough City Hospital? We’re paying a fortune for it. was it ever big enough?
DR PETER REDDING: Well, it is big enough just in terms of the physical building.
PAUL STAINTON: In terms of beds.
DR PETER READING: I think the key question is the number of beds. And I, as some ofd your well informed listeners may remember, I think .. quite late in the day before the decision to build the Hospital was made in 2007, at the request of the then Government, over 100 beds were taken out of the Hospital. So the 4th floor is now offices and learning facilities and so on. And it’s not wards. It was built to have the potential for wards, and I think the question which we need to ask over the next two or three years, and we are asking now, is should we put beds back in. Is the Hospital actually almost a victim of its own successes? It’s a very attractive facility. And also it’s very well located on the A47, which means that as I say we’re attracting more patients from the North than we ever did before.
PAUL STAINTON: Peter, we’ve got to leave it there unfortunately, but thank you for coming on this morning.