Putting Barnsley people first...

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Dr Balac talks stroke and children's surgery in this week's Barnsley Chronicle

Dr Balac talks stroke and children's surgery in this week's Barnsley Chronicle
25 November 2016

The NHS never stands still, it has to keep evolving and developing to keep pace with the ever changing range of healthcare needs of the patients it looks after. People like you and me.

There have been some major improvements in health in Barnsley over the past couple of decades, with cancer survivorship being a good example. Better screening, earlier diagnosis and quicker access to treatment has meant more local people than ever are taking on and beating disease.

But there is always room for improvement, and we can do that by working together better across all our NHS services.

Historically, people have gone to see their family doctor when they have felt unwell and more serious problems that their GP hasn’t been able to sort would prompt a referral to the local hospital to see a specialist – in our case usually Barnsley Hospital.

This approach is likely to change over the coming years as some hospitals start to become more specialist treatment centres for specific types of care, like Sheffield and cancer care for example.

Why’s that? Because, depending on where you live in South Yorkshire, some patients have better access to certain services, experiences of care and results than others, and we want that to change. One reason for this is that there is a national shortage of some specialist health care staff and hospitals right across the country are struggling to fill vacancies.

Another key factor is that doctors and nurses in some hospitals don’t see as many patients as their colleagues in neighbouring ones, which can result in them becoming less skilled for some of those very specialist treatments.

It is now commonplace to take patients with emergency heart problems direct to specialist units for example. This saves lives and reduces the chances of living with long term disabilities. You might remember the story of the young footballer Fabrice Muamba back in 2012. He was playing for Bolton at White Hart Lane in the FA cup quarter final. He had a cardiac arrest, a specific type of heart attack, on the pitch and his heart stopped beating for a full 78 minutes.

After stabilising him at the ground, a decision was made to take him to the London Chest Hospital in Bethnal Green, which was eight miles further way than the local hospital and it was a Saturday tea time. Cardiology specialists believe that decision saved his life.

NHS Barnsley Clinical Commissioning Group is working with similar NHS organisations operating across South Yorkshire, Bassetlaw, Chesterfield and Wakefield to address these important issues and make the best use of the resources we have.  We collectively launched public consultations on potential changes to two services provided by hospitals in our region:

  • Hyper acute stroke service  – where patients are treated in the first 72 hours after having a stroke, returning then to Barnsley
  • Some children’s surgery and anaesthesia services which need to take place at night, or overnight and at weekends.

After speaking with patients and the public a few months ago, options have now been put forward for the way these services are provided in the future, including two proposed favoured ones which are supported by senior clinicians.

Your views are important so please have a look at the consultation documents and let us know your thoughts by visiting www.smybndccgs.nhs.uk  The consultation runs until Friday 20 January 2017, with a decision expected in February 2017.

I would encourage you to come along to any of the three public meetings we are holding over the next few months. I will be there with colleagues from Barnsley Hospital and we will be able to answer any questions you have and share the background to these proposals.

The first meeting will be at the Core, County Way in the town centre on 17th November from 6pm-8pm. The next will be at the Salvation Army centre in Goldthorpe, 6pm-8pm 7th December. Then on January 11th we’ll be at St John’s Community centre in Penistone from 3.30pm-5.30pm.