Lord Beith speaks out on hospital services
The need for more services in local hospitals like Berwick, which are more than 50 miles from main hospitals, has been raised in Parliament again by Liberal Democrat peer and former Berwick MP Alan Beith.
In the House of Lords last week, he highlighted the need to provide more treatments and follow-up appointments locally, now that major procedures are centralised in main hospitals so as to improve outcomes and increase patient safety.
Patients, he said, should not have to travel for three or four hours for follow-up consultations and regular treatments which could be provided locally – as chemotherapy is at Berwick – or could be carried out locally using modern technology to link the patient with the distant hospital.
Respondingto Lord Beith, health minister Lord O’Shaughnessy said the NHS ‘had a statutory duty to reduce health inequalities, including people living in remote areas’.
Lord Beith welcomed the plan to build a new hospital in Berwick, but commented: “This is not just about a hospital building – it’s about the services that need to be provided in it, and whether there is a real effort to reduce patient travel wherever possible.”
Campaign group, A Better Hospital for Berwick, has expressed similar views.