The facilities and services located at Horsham Hospital have been the subject of a working group set up by the Scrutiny Committee of Horsham District Council.
The group was tasked with looking at present health provision at the hospital including acute services, outpatient services and inpatient facilities and access to services at the hospital. Future plans by Hospital trusts, Sussex Community Trust and the Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG) were considered.
The working group has been able to meet with clinicians and managers of the CCG, the chief executive of the Surrey and Sussex Healthcare Trust and senior managers of the Sussex Community Trust.
The group was also able to review the Strategic Service Development Plan in relation to Horsham Hospital, and its future role.
Horsham Hospital has played a huge role in the healthcare of those living in the town and the surrounding district since the early 1900s.
Medical services have changed over the years with the loss of surgery and the maternity unit but there are now respite and rehabilitation in-patient beds and a unit for those suffering from dementia.
Community services are run from the site and diagnostics such as X-ray, a mobile unit with an MRI scanner and blood taking clinics are also available in the hospital.
Out-patient services take place weekly when medical staff come from other hospitals to see the residents of the district who have been referred by primary care and this month a new integrated community musculoskeletal service is due to begin involving physiotherapy, occupational therapy and other professionals.
The hospital is situated in an ideal geographical position being served by buses, is near the railway station and accessible by car.
The new developments west of the town and the potential massive increase in houses north of the town with increasing population, will place more strain on already stretched medical services and an expanded local community hospital integrated with primary care could help ameliorate some of the problems.
Mindful that the goal of the CCG is to deliver more care in the community the hospital is ideally placed to provide space for services such as a preventive care centre for long term medical conditions including heart problems, complicated diabetic disorders, neurological rehabilitation and continuing chronic lung disorders.
Over the last few years the Minor Injuries Unit has been a cause for concern. It only functions in the week and not at nights or weekends. The unit is well appointed and potentially could deliver more care to residents.
The working group, who visited the Unit, felt that positive steps could be taken to expand and integrate the service, possibly with the Crawley acute service.
The out-patient department provides space for clinics used by many specialities. There is room for expansion and if more out-patient consultations took place at Horsham, shorter, quicker and easier travel times would benefit patients and prevent long fraught journeys to District hospitals.
The appointment system may need reviewing but the benefits to Horsham and District patients would be immeasurable.
The eye clinics are extremely busy, many patients attending for conditions such as cataracts. Surgery for this condition at the moment is performed at District hospital level or in special units situated in other hospitals outside Horsham district.
Horsham Hospital would be an ideal location for many patients who require cataract surgery - being easy to reach for patients both in the town and the surrounding area.
The working group considered that the setting up of a unit to undertake cataract surgery and other minor surgery is feasible and should be acted upon.
The building will need modification to provide a special operating area, which has a cost implication, but the League of Friends has always supported projects that benefit residents and could be involved.
Horsham and Mid Sussex CCG has produced service development plans that seem to reinforce the potential identified in this letter, and we now look forward to their engagement with the appropriate provider services so that the highest quality services can be delivered from the site.
This is one example of the role that our hospital can play in the changing environment which is Horsham. Healthcare demands are greater than ever before and financial constraints affect those trying to provide a service to their residents, but the working group felt that Horsham Hospital is well positioned to provide high quality care to the community, therefore putting the people first.
There will be further debate when the working group reports to the Scrutiny and Overview Committee meeting on Monday, 10th November at 5.30pm at Horsham District Council, Park North, North Street, Horsham.
Dr DAVID SKIPP
(LDem, Roffey North) Chairman, Horsham District Council Health Provision Working Group
(Ind, Steyning) Chairman, Horsham District Council Scrutiny and Overview Committee
North Street, Horsham