Broomfield Hospital and the NHS in Chelmsford

"If I am your MP I will always fight to maintain 24 hour emergency services at Broomfield.  In all decisions about the NHS patients' interests must come first" Vicky Ford

I come from a medical family and am married to a doctor, so I see every day the incredible hard work done by the amazing staff within the NHS.  I passionately support the NHS.

However we cannot stand still.  Emergency and urgent care is complex, all across England the numbers of attendances in A&E has risen very significantly, and many hospitals find there is a shortage of trained specialists.  So it is important to think about how best to plan for the future.  Across the whole of the NHS for England the local services are developing “Sustainablity and Transformation Plans” (STPs).   Our STP in Mid Essex is part of the Essex Success Regime.  A summary of their plan is here 

Broomfield A&E: The 24-hour A&E at Broomfield Hospital is a vital local service and must continue. I have been a long term supporter of local A&E departments, and I have asked local health leaders to explain their proposals.  They have all told me that there is no plan to close the A&E.  They have said in public that in every plan they are considering there will continue to be a ‘type 1 A&E’ department at Broomfield*.  A ‘type 1 A&E’ department means “a major A&E, providing a consultant-led 24 hour service with full resuscitation facilities”.  In other words it will be open 24 hours and will take emergency ambulances.   A growing city the size of Chelmsford needs a full A&E service.  If I am your MP I will always fight to maintain 24 hour emergency services at Broomfield 

The STP document refers to a type 2 hospital (Emergency hospital with elective care).  A Type 2 Hospital will still have a type 1 A&E, as the STP have made clear. But some patients will go direct to a Specialist Emergency Hospital, particularly patients who would need to go there anywhere for highly specialist care and the transfer between hospitals would waste vital time. There is no proposal to change the A&E at Broomfield into a type 2 or 3 A&E  department.  The final STP proposal will be published later in the year and if I am your MP  I will be campaigning to hold the STP to the commitments it has made to maintain services at Broomfield 

Training new Doctors: The Government has announced plans to increase in the number of medical students in training by 1,500 a year.  This is good news for Chelmsford as Anglia Ruskin University has announced plans to open a new medical school in Chelmsford in 2018, and has already started work on a £20 million new building. 

Specialist Care: For the most severe emergencies it is specialist care that saves lives so sometimes it is better to travel to a specialist hospital.  For over 10 years the NHS has been developing networks to provide this sort of care.  Some examples of this are given below: 

  • There are only 4 specialist Burns Units in the country of which Broomfield is one.  The outstanding St Andrews Centre at Broomfield provides the regional burns service to a population of nearly 10 Million people and is a vital service to London and the whole of East Anglia.  Patients with severe burns in any of these areas are likely to come to Broomfield for treatment.  Incidentally this means that there has to be a 24 hour A&E and paediatric service on site to support the burns unit.
  • Patients with the most severe injuries from Chelmsford and the rest of the East of England are already taken straight to the Major Trauma Centres at Cambridge or London for treatment, often they are taken by Air Ambulance.  
  • Medical evidence recommend that patients with a heart attack should usually go straight to a cardiac specialist (PCI) centre for treatment called PCI (percutaneous coronary intervention).  Patients who need to be transferred between hospitals have longer delays than those admitted directly to a PCI centre, with a difference of about 43 minutes.  Those minutes count, which is why for the past five years most Chelmsford patients already go straight to Basildon, our local PCI centre. 
  • There is evidence that some Stroke patients may be better served by specialist services.  Only one in four London Hospitals now looks after patients with a “hyper-acute” stroke and Since this change was made around 170 more people a year in London are surviving their stroke, and patients are spending less time in hospital. Other parts of the country are also centralising their specialist service.  It is possible that by introducing a hyper-acute stroke service in Essex, lives would be saved.  However travel distances across Essex are different to those in London and it is important to look at what the real travel times would be.  Our Local Stroke service has recently been ranked as one of the top performing services in England, so it will be important to look carefully at all the evidence before deciding what is best.  

*STP response to question from Health Service Journal, February 2017