Patients left in the dark as St Albans hospital loses ANOTHER crucial service
PUBLISHED: 07:00 31 August 2017
Danny Loo Photography 2017
Patients have been left in the dark about St Albans City Hospital losing yet another crucial service.
Plans are afoot to move the special care dental service, which provides dental service to disabled people, to Hemel Hempstead hospital next year.
St Albans resident Lyn Osborn, 57, who has been in a wheelchair since 2004, said: “This will make it incredibly difficult for disabled folk.
“I pay for my own transport, but I will be unable to do that now.
“It seems another service is being moved out of the hospital.”
The service, frequented by wheelchair users and people with special needs, is run by Herts Community Trust (HCT).
Until recently, HCT also kept 39 community beds in the hospital for rehabilitative care following surgery.
Those went when Herts Valleys clinical commissioning group (HVCCG) pulled their funding.
Miss Osborn said: “It just seems a catalogue of things are moving out of St Albans hospital.
“I also used the neurological rehab unit, which was moved to Watford about a year ago.
“It’s the one local hospital and they seem to be constantly moving things away, and when you are a wheelchair user who has to go to Hemel, you have to rely on hospital transport.”
In addition, HCT did not consult patients’ groups before pulling the plug on the service.
Chair of St Albans Patient Group, John Wigley, said: “They absolutely should have consulted patients.
“I do not know if there is a legal requirement to, but it would have been a good idea.”
Chair of the St Albans Health and Wellbeing Partnership, Cllr Robert Donald said: “It would have been good if the district council and the partnership were consulted before it was announced.’’
“If there are problems with transportation, we would have comments to make.”
As long as the service is being maintained or bettered he would not have any complaints, he said.
But, he added, St Albans losing more services was not what had been promised.
“At a time when the NHS trusts were supposed to be building up St Albans, it seems to be going counter to what we have been told.
“If there was not going to be a new hospital, the NHS was going to make St Albans provide more services, so it’s a bit worrying if they are reducing services.
“Again, it goes back to a lack of consultation.”
HCT has invited patients to take part in bi-monthly engagement meetings. To find out more email firstname.lastname@example.org
In a statement, the trust said: “The special care dental service, run by HCT, operates from four clinics across Hertfordshire.
“Patients are able to attend any of these clinics. A thorough review of our patients in the west of the county has shown that the majority live in the Watford and Hemel Hempstead areas.
“In January 2018 we plan to move the clinic at St Albans City Hospital to a state-of-the-art facility in Hemel Hempstead, closer to the majority of our patients.
“In addition to benefitting from having their care close to home, many patients will also be able to access other services such as learning disability and mental health services from the same clinic.
“Many of the people our dental service sees are also under the care of these other services.”
The move is not set in stone as HCT still has to get permission from NHS England.
Head of primary care for NHS England in Hertfordshire, Di Pegg, said: “NHS England policy requires dental service providers to follow a formal procedure if they wish to relocate services under an existing contract, and we will be working with HCT to complete this process.
“It is our priority to ensure that all users of the special care dentistry service in Hertfordshire have continued access to safe, high-quality dental care, and we will need to be satisfied that any relocation is in the best interest of patients.”