Brain unit's lost just three of 79 patients in 2 years ...so why go elsewhere?
FRESH concerns have been raised about whether longer journeys to a new hospital for brain trauma patients will hamper treatment.
Some North Wales patients - previously taken to the Walton Centre in Liverpool - last month started to go to hospital in Stoke which Betsi Cadwaladr University Health Board (BCUHB) believes could save the NHS PS240,000 regionally.
But figures obtained last week show how highly successful the Walton Centre was in treating such patients - and Conwy county councillor Mike Priestley, a former Walton Centre governor who researched the figures, is watching closely to see whether Stoke will be as successful.
He said: "I want to see proof that this decision (to switch future patients to Stoke) has a better health outcome for us and see whether the PS240k savings will be achieved that BCUHB has promised."
He said Stoke was half an hour further away than Merseyside is for north west Wales patients and added: "What can Stoke do that Walton can't?" In an answer to Cllr Priestley's Freedom of Information Act request to the Walton Centre, the centre says that: ? In 2010 there were 36 head injury patients transferred from North Wales to the Walton Centre and all 36 were treated and discharged.
. ? In 2011, there were 43 head injury patients of which 40 were discharged and three died.
. ? In January to August this year (when transfers started to Stoke not Walton) there were 22 patients and 20 of them were discharged and two died.
Yesterday, Betsi Cadwaladr University Health Board insisted care in Stoke would be of a good standard.
A spokesman said: "Each year around 40 seriously injured adult patients are transferred from North Wales to England for specialist tertiary care. Previously, patients have received care for complex orthopaedic injuries, traumatic head injuries, cardiothoracic injuries etc in whichever Liverpool hospital specialised in management of their primary injury.
The main benefit of the arrangement with Stoke is that the full range of major trauma services are provided on a single site, which will enhance the care for patients with multiple trauma."
Patients with other neurological conditions, not caused by traumatic injury (spontaneous brain haemorrhages for example, or caused by medical conditions) will still go to the Walton Centre. The health board says it's confident the projected savings will be made because the switch to Stoke has been carefully costed.
Dr Peter Oakley, Clinical Lead for Major Trauma at University Hospital of North Staffordshire and Clinical Lead for Major Trauma in the West Midlands, said: "University Hospital of North Staffordshire is a fully operational Major Trauma Centre.
"All necessary ingredients are in place to provide a full range of immediate and emergency interventions, within a purpose-built, single-site facility."
Cllr Mike Priestley (right) questions Betsi Cadwaladr's decision to shift patients to Stoke University Hospital (main)