This morning I went to question and answer session with Helen O'Shea, the interim Chief Exec of Plymouth Hospitals NHS Trust (Derriford to you and me), which was mainly about their bid for Foundation Trust status.
There is a lot of concern about the loss of clinics locally with around a dozen being lost from Liskeard and Launceston hospitals over recent months. Ms O'Shea told us that of the clinics they are responsible for, the main loss is a rheumatology clinic as the consultant has become semi-retired. They are looking to replace him and the clinic will be up and running again when they do. The other change is that, to make it viable, the general surgery clinic has been merged with the colo-rectal clinic. These are both reassuring bits of news - but we want to see the rheumatology clinic replaced as soon as possible.
We asked about the other clinics which have been cut and who is responsible but she couldn't answer. It appears that these are run by other trusts, so the investigation continues. There is still a lot of concern about other clinics which have either been cut or could be moved in the future. The NHS talks about delivering more services locally but all we have seen in our area is cut after cut.
UPDATE - Later in the meeting we had the chance to question the Chief Executive of the Royal Cornwall Hospitals Trust who said that they have not cut any local clinics in the East - mainly because they don't provide that many. However, she is seeking to provide more as she accepts that her trust has under-served the East until now. That's great news.
It appears that the responsibility for the lost clinics lies with smaller providers such as Peninsula Plastic Surgery and Probus Surgery - although the latter are hopeful of re-starting their clinic soon.
There was a lot of concern about the proposed number of governors on the new foundation trust. Out of 14 member governors the proposal is to have 8 from Plymouth, 3 from Devon and 3 from Cornwall. There was a lot of concern that, given the respective populations that use Derriford, Cornwall is under-represented. Given that the proposed Cornwall Foundation Trust had proposed just one governor from East Cornwall (since upped to two), it does feel as though our area is being ignored by both sides.
I asked about transport and parking as well. The movement of services to make them more convenient for the trust has a significant impact on patients and our area has very little public transport. I asked if she was aware that Cornwall Council was not counting Derriford as a significant bus destination in their bus review (because it is in Devon). Ms O'Shea said she is aware and has 'had words'. I am glad that she has done so, but now we need an indication from the Council that they have listened.
She also told me that they are this week starting a new contract with a different parking operator which will see more spaces, better signage, pay on exit and no rise in charges - all of which are good.