The recent tragic death of a 19-year-old man in Sutton highlights the problem of transporting emergency patients to distant hospitals along congested roads.
Zain Sailsman, bleeding from an undetected stab wound, was taken 12 miles to Stepping Hill hospital, bypassing Macclesfield General only 2.5 miles from the scene of the incident – and Express readers are asking why.
We have to look back to April 2011 and an observation by Coun Arnold that led me to write the following article:
‘I know I’m banging on about Macclesfield District General Hospital again, but stay with me on this.
‘I’ve been around long enough to know how things work with public services.
‘You will have read of my concern regarding the lack of agreement from MDGH for the air ambulance to deliver A&E patients.
‘Now, we have ‘leaked’ documents indicating that some A&E units will stop caring for major trauma patients and be downgraded to ‘urgent care centres’.
‘Frankly, I don’t swallow this ‘leaked document’ story. In my experience documents are leaked to test public response to unpopular strategies.
‘The tactic is usually followed by a ‘full public consultation’ carefully stage-managed to produce a pre-determined outcome.
‘Thanks to local Lib Dem Ainsley Arnold, we learn that A&E at Macc General is now unlikely to be part of the national major trauma network due to the health trust ‘missing a deadline’. An explanation that now sounds somewhat disingenuous.
‘Mr Arnold discovered the Air Ambulance Service had been categorically instructed to bypass Macclesfield General, even if it was in the immediate vicinity, and transfer emergency patients to other hospitals.
‘So the refusal to accept air ambulance patients suggests the move to downgrade A&E at MGH has been planned for some time and emergency trauma patients needing urgent medical care must travel miles to a hospital outside our area.
‘Mr Arnold is deeply concerned this erosion of our emergency facility is the death knell of Macclesfield’s A&E and urges us all to act before specialist equipment and expertise are moved to other hospitals.
‘We fought a long, hard battle to retain our A&E. The 50,000-strong petition represented almost every household in the Macclesfield/Wilmslow area. How naive were we to believe the voice of the people had been heard?
‘While we were celebrating the triumph of democracy, NHS managers were instructing the Air Ambulance Service to take emergency patients elsewhere – then recording it as a missed deadline’.
So, now you know how Macclesfield General’s omission from the major trauma network was carefully managed to look like an ‘administrative blunder’.
Coun Arnold predicted the outcome in 2011 – and, sadly, was right.