CROYDON COMMENTARY: Barely a year since major works were completed and it re-opened, Purley Hospital has switched to reduced hours because of… lack of use. DAVID CALLAM sees this as a missed opportunity for the over-stretched NHS
Croydon NHS must have money to burn.
The refurbishment has been talked about for decades, demanded by the denizens of Purley, supported by their MP, Sir Richard Ottaway.
It beggars belief that in all the preparations nobody among the overpaid, overstaffed local, regional or national NHS management teams bothered to check the likely usage. In fact, it seems someone did, but there is now a dispute between the project manager’s figures and those being quoted officially.
You couldn’t make it up. If a private company didn’t research its market properly before making a substantial investment, it would soon go out of business.
Shortening Purley’s opening times to just six hours a day is such a wasted opportunity. Croydon’s only Accident and Emergency department is at Thornton Heath, in the north of the borough. The next one, travelling south, is beyond Redhill. In London’s most populous borough, there is surely a case for an A&E in the Purley area.
Where better than at Purley Hospital?
The present facility is neither an A&E nor an urgent care unit. It’s a minor injuries unit. Is that similar to a walk-in clinic, or what? And how do its capabilities compare with those of a GP surgery?
Jeremy Hunt and his chums in government complain that A&Es are inundated with people who don’t need to be there, and yet successive health ministers continue to confuse the issue by introducing different degrees of treatment with different opening hours and different levels of expertise.
They expect us to know which one to use and when. Can they really be surprised if, in an emergency – real or imagined – we call 999 or head for the nearest A&E?
Health professionals tell us we need to reduce drastically the number of hospitals nationwide because they are unsustainably expensive. The present geographical spread results from decades before the NHS, when founding a hospital depended on the patronage of a local Lord or Lady Bountiful to cover building and running costs.
I’m told it costs 10 times as much to see a doctor in a hospital out-patient clinic as it does at a GP surgery. I assume an A&E visit would be cheaper if the unit was stand-alone, rather than attached to a district general hospital.
So do we need a standalone A&E, open 24/7, in every major population centre? From there we could transfer patients, once stabilised, to one of a smaller number of specialist hospitals, albeit further away. I would attach a GP practice to each A&E so a triage nurse could redirect patients who didn’t need emergency treatment, avoiding turning them away without help.
Purley would be an ideal place to test the model. I’m sure it would attract large numbers of people – in an area stretching from South Croydon to Coulsdon and from Woodmansterne to Kenley – if it was open all hours and properly advertised as such.
It would relieve the pressure on Croydon University Hospital on Mayday Road, and possibly on Redhill, too. And it would make proper value-for-money use of a recently refurbished medical facility.
- Purley’s £11m hospital scheme sweeps value under the carpet
- CQC report tells us nothing we did not know about Mayday
- Mayday Hospital’s care record warrants closer inspections
Coming to Croydon
- David Lean Cinema: The Railway Man, May 1
- Groundwork River Wandle project workshop, May 1
- Hauntology – the architecture of Croydon, Apr 5-May 2
- Warlingham Sevens Heaven tournament, May 3
- Elm Tree Cottage garden open day, May 4
- Crystal Palace Chamber of Commerce Question Time, May 7
- David Lean Cinema: Wadja, May 8
- Coulsdon Euro election hustings, May 8
- David Lean Cinema: Blue Velvet, May 10
- Norwood Society Talk: West Norwood – a place of change, May 15
- David Lean Cinema: The Invisible Woman, May 15
- Coulsdon West local election hustings, May 16
- Croydon RFC charity memorial day, May 17
- Coulsdon East local election hustings, May 19 (confirmed)
- David Lean Cinema: The Rocket, May 22
- David Lean Cinema: Dallas Buyers Club, May 29
- Elm Tree Cottage garden open day, June 15
- Norwood Society Talk: The Concrete Church, June 19
- Classic Car Show at Purley Rotary Fields, June 22
- Crystal Palace Overground Festival, June 26-29
- South Norwood Allotments open day, June 28
- Elm Tree Cottage garden open day, Aug 10
- Norwood Society Talk: War Memorials, Sep 18
- Norwood Society Talk: From Fire Station to Theatre, Oct 16
- Norwood Society Talk: Lambeth’s Archives, Nov 20
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