Last night, our hospitals were featured on the BBC local news.
We would like to assure our patients, visitors and other local people that our plans and objectives for the next five years remain completely unchanged. Our five year strategy to keep all our sites where they are remains the same; our plan to keep our A&E and maternity services open at our two biggest sites remain the same. In short, all of the commitments we made publicly two and a half weeks ago remain the same.
But we have to think beyond 2020, and as everyone who has visited our hospitals will know, we need to develop a plan to keep our hospital buildings fit for the future. Some of our buildings were constructed in the 1930s, and their age is being to show. We remain determined to sort this out over the longer term - that is, over the next 10-20 years.
Reports suggesting that any change is just around the corner are way off the mark. As local people will be aware, we need to do an awful lot of work before we develop any option for change, and any possible changes will be subject to the approval and consultation of the public we serve and our local healthcare partners.
That said, it is deeply disappointing that an overheard conversation made the news in this way, and meant that very early plans to discuss different possibilities for the future of our hospital buildings were published almost as fact.
We would like to apologise to anyone who was made to feel nervous by the media reports. What is important, and accurate, is that we will be continuing the long process of evaluating options.
As and when we think we have any clear answers or options, we will ensure our patients, staff and the public hear about it properly and can have their say. Any changes, however far down the line, will need a lot of discussion and consultation.
In the meantime, our staff and volunteers will carry on doing what they do best – delivering great care to every patient, every day.
CEO Daniel Elkeles said: “The Trust Board has always been very open that it is committed to retaining both hospitals for at least the next five years – and that remains the case. At the same time it is right that longer term planning should start now to tackle the serious problems facing local services and local NHS buildings, many of which were built in the 1930s and mean patients are being treated in inadequate conditions. However this is a long term plan and any of the options being looked at here are many years away from being implemented and will need a lot more discussion, agreement and consultation before they happen.”