A BIRMINGHAM hospital is refusing to treat patients from Worcestershire because it is unable to cope with demand.
University Hospital Birmingham NHS Foundation Trust (UHB), which runs the Queen Elizabeth Hospital in the second city, is refusing to accept referrals from GPs outside of its own catchment area for a three month period for those patients requiring general surgery, pain management, general dermatology, urology and ear, nose and throat operations.
So far 173 referrals have been rejected with 32 coming from Bromsgrove and Redditch.
But commissioners in Redditch and Bromsgrove have branded the situation ‘completely unacceptable’ and warned UHB is breaching national rules, its contractual obligations and the NHS Constitution which guarantees patients a right to choose where to be treated for planned surgery.
Commissioners across Worcestershire have now appealed to NHS England and the regulator Monitor as well as UHB asking them to reverse the decision as soon as possible.
Simon Gartland, deputy head of commissioning, told a meeting of the CCG’s governing body: “The rules state if you have an activity issue you raise it with commissioners first and see what you can do about it while maintaining the service to patients, you don’t stop the service and have an argument, you have an argument while seeing the patients and that’s what we’ve asked UHB to do and go back to normal as quickly as possible.”
Simon Hairsnape, chief officer for Redditch and Bromsgrove CCG, added the situation was a first as normally if commissioners were willing to pay for activity, which they were, then the Trust should provide it at the set price.
“Here is a Trust saying it can’t and won’t. If every Trust took that view, choice would be reduced to practically zero.”
Stewart Messer, chief operating officer for Worcestershire Acute Hospitals NHS Trust, said the decision was a significant risk to their own ability to clear a backlog of about 1,000 patients waiting more than 18 weeks for treatment by November. Referrals for operations are already 4.8 per cent up on last year and Mr Messer said the move by UHB was likely to lead to more demand from the Redditch and Bromsgrove area.