Great Western Hospital takes over Savernake Hospital

Written by Tony Millett on .

It looks as though the government’s reorganisation of the NHS will not mean that Savernake Hospital’s minor injuries unit will be reopening in the near future.

The primary care trust’s decision to close the unit was taken to judicial review at the High Court by local activists. But their attempt to reverse the closure was unsuccessful.

The coalition’s NHS legislation has been taken off the parliamentary timetable for some surgery – whether it’s minor or major surgery remains to be seen. But already major changes are underway to the way our local health services are run.

From 1 June responsibility for Wiltshire’s community health services will move from the primary care trust to Great Western Hospitals. And for now their contract is still drawn up and funded by the primary care trust – known as NHS Wiltshire.

The £80million a year contract will see GWH running community health care for 433,000 people across Wiltshire and into parts of the Bath and North East Somerset health region. Two thousand staff are being transferred to GWH’s payroll.

The services GWH will be providing include maternity services in most of the county (some 9,000 births a year), services for children and young people, prison health, community dental services and general medical inpatient services at three community hospitals – including Savernake.

However, GWH’s head of business development, Helen Bourner, told this week’s Marlborough Area Board meeting that reopening Savernake’s minor injuries unit was not within their contract.

“We are certainly looking at Savernake and how we can use it differently, but I would put on a caveat – that does not at this stage include re-opening the minor injuries unit.”

When the current legislation has finally become law, NHS Wiltshire may still give way to a consortium of local GPs. It would then for them to make the commissioning decision on Savernake’s minor injuries unit – and to fund it.

These changes are taking place amidst great uncertainty as rules and guidance from the Department of Health change and develop. Assuming their contract passes the regulator, GWH will have access to Savernake from 1 June.

But GWH will not be taking over the public finance initiative that provided the funding to build the new Savernake Hospital. That remains – for now – with NHS Wiltshire. But, as Helen Bourner explained, “that may change.”