Proposed new health centre on Sainsbury’s site

The League is taking a close interest in the proposed setting up of a health centre on the new Sainsbury’s site.  When Sainsbury’s made known their plans, we wrote to the Buckingham Advertiser:

‘3 May 2013

Sir,

We have studied with interest the proposals by Sainsbury’s and the letters and comments which have appeared since.   The League of Friends of Buckingham Hospital has a particular interest in the possible effect of the health centre proposals on the hospital.

The first point to note is that Sainburys  say that various services ‘could’ be provided – not ‘would’ but ‘could’.  Couching their proposal in that way, Sainsbury’s clearly recognise that they would have no say in what services might eventually be provided there.  That would be the responsibility of the Aylesbury Vale Clinical Commissioning Group, comprising GPs who now have control for local commissioning budgets, or the Buckinghamshire Hospitals NHS Trust, which now runs Buckingham Hospital.

There are currently  some 25 different outpatient clinics operating from Buckingham Hospital, all except one of which are provided by the NHS.  Our understanding is that, at the moment, the AVCCG is intent on developing services through Buckingham Hospital and has no plans to commission outpatient clinics at the proposed new health centre.  Taking just one specific example, it is considered by the professionals that there would simply not be enough patients requiring treatment to make the suggested dialysis unit viable, and if it does ever become viable, then Buckingham Hospital would be the obvious base for it.

If – and we believe it to be a big ‘if’ – outpatient services were to be moved from the hospital, that would undoubtedly bring into question the continued viability of the hospital itself, which provides not only the outpatient clinics but also 16 inpatient beds, which are fully used.  The loss of those facilities would be a damaging blow to health care in the North Bucks area, facilities which, in one form or another, have been provided at  the hospital since it was given to the town 126 years ago.

Our belief is that Sainbury’s have floated the possibility of these services at the new health centre because they make the whole site proposal more attractive, rather than because they believe that these facilities will actually materialise – a decision about which they have absolutely no control.’

We will be assessing Sainsbury’s plans, and in particular how they might affect Buckingham Hospital, as the proposals mature but, at the moment, it seems problematic to us that any of the suggested services will be provided at the Sainsbury’s site.