Nottingham

Newark hospital unit plan reignites A&E services row

Newark Hospital
Image caption Newark's A&E department was downgraded in 2011

Changes at a hospital at the centre of a bitter debate over services have been dismissed as "window dressing".

Newark's A&E department was downgraded in 2011 - despite fierce opposition - before being "enhanced" with new services in 2014 and 2016.

Plans to go from an "Urgent Care Centre" to an "Urgent Treatment Centre" have been hailed as a vote of confidence by some officials.

But opponents said many patients still had to travel too far for treatment.

Image caption Despite fierce opposition, Newark Hospital became an Urgent Care Centre

Opposition to the original changes focussed on patients having to travel further.

Keith Girling, chair of Nottinghamshire County Council's Health Scrutiny Committee, said: "The (hospital) trust has got a vision for Newark Hospital to make it a centre of excellence and that is a positive move.

"Which services people will be able to access is under review and there will be public engagement sessions so we can mould services to people's needs."

Campaigners who wanted to keep Newark A&E, have claimed a 25% rise in demand for ambulances in the area since 2011.

Paul Baggaley, from the Say Yes to Newark Hospital group, said of the changes: "Nobody can say what it is, nobody knows what it is, it is semantics.

"People with minor injuries are being taken miles unnecessarily when they should be treated locally."

The local Clinical Commissioning Group, which co-ordinates front line NHS care, said all diagnostic services currently available would remain.

Dr Thilan Bartholomeuz, the group's clinical lead, said, "We would like to assure local residents that patient safety will be central to any decisions we make about the services provided at Newark Hospital.

"We will hold some public engagement events early in the new year".

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