My View, Dr Nick Tupper: Shake-up planned for children’s surgery

Doncaster Royal Infirmary. Picture: Marie Caley
Doncaster Royal Infirmary. Picture: Marie Caley

Sometimes you can’t do it all on your own, you need a bit of help.

It’s something we’re all familiar with in our own lives and it’s becoming a way of life for the NHS too.

For across the NHS, resources are getting stretched and clinicians are constantly thinking of new ways of providing the quality health services you expect and deserve.

Here in Doncaster we’ve linked up with seven nearby health areas to look at working together and collectively provide some hospital services across a wider geographical area.

Those partner areas are Barnsley, Bassetlaw, Hardwick, North Derbyshire, Rotherham, Sheffield and Wakefield. We’re not sure how it’s going to happen yet, it’s very much in its infancy and we want to involve the public in shaping any changes, but we’re initially focusing on children’s surgery and anaesthetic services. These are services provided for children from birth to 19.

Currently, there are variations across the eight areas on how quickly a child would need to wait for, say, having their tonsils removed.

There are several reasons. Some hospitals are having problems recruiting specialist healthcare workers and the number of doctors coming through the country’s medical schools is expected to drop by nearly 50 per cent by next year.

Added to this, some doctors working at smaller hospitals may not carry out as many operations as those at bigger ones, so they may not be able to maintain their skills levels. New rules designed to make sure doctors don’t work excessive hours have also impacted on waiting times for children’s surgery. This all means we will have to do things differently in the future to provide care that’s safe, fair and lasting.

Doctors, nurses and heath care experts agree going on as we are isn’t an option. Nor can we centralise all children’s surgery as no hospital in Doncaster or in any of the seven other areas has the physical space to handle it all.

This means we have to look at how we can best use resources across a wider geographical area than just Doncaster. Our pledge is to provide local care where possible and regional care where necessary.

Any potential changes would take place only after consulting with people like you.

Over the next couple of months we are starting that process by asking parents, carers and young people in the Doncaster area what would be important to you if your child, or a child you know, needed surgery? What would help and reassure you?

You can let us have your thoughts by completing a survey at Survey Monkey or you can find out more by visiting our website: Doncaster Clinical Commissioning Group