May 14

Print this Post

Our changing hospital provision

As most Welwyn Hatfield residents are aware our main hospital is currently being wound down with services transitioning mostly to the Lister in Stevenage. There is more background about this in the Hospitals and Health section of this site and on the new web site explaining the changes to services at the QE2 here.

The  three main concerns would appear to be:

1. Getting there in an ambulance

Getting to the Lister in an emergency will most likely take most patients  longer than getting to the QE2. According to the AA Route Planner the Lister is fourteen miles away from the QE2. Residents in our southernmost ward, Cuffley, are twenty two miles from the Lister. The latest performance indicators show that the East of England Ambulance service (March 2012) brought 95% of patients to a hospital in 16.8 minutes, and 99% in 25.6 minutes. No specifics are given though with regard to how long journeys from Welwyn Hatfield Borough to Stevenage took. It would be interesting to know, an FOI request perhaps?

 2. Getting there to visit, or getting home after a discharge:

Having to visit a patient in the Lister can be a trial from our borough. If you are lucky enough to drive you can park (spaces permitting) for between £2.30 and £7.10 daily, or £18 for a weekly pass. Full pricing here.

If you don’t have access to a car things are more difficult. Walking from Stevenage station to the hospital is too far for many people. There are a number of subsidised travel schemes available (see this leaflet) but they are usually not available without advance pre-booking and for some of them, meeting certain criteria.

Buses are scarce; Arriva buses only run three buses after 6pm weekdays and the last one is at five past ten, the timetable is here.  UNO buses run two buses from the Lister after 6pm with the last one departing just before 8pm, timetable here. UNO run no services at all at weekends.

A trip to A&E could easily result in being discharged after the last bus has gone. Then you are at the mercy of cab companies. A recent quote from  Stevenage Taxis  to get from the Lister to Travellers Lane in Hatfield on a weekday evening was at estimated £22. Hatfield based AAA taxis quote a fixed price for the same trip of £29. A quote to get from Hall Grove, WGC, to the Lister with Ambassador Cars in WGC  was estimated at £24.60. It’s a lot of money either way but the Stevenage based company seem to offer the best deal.

Not an affordable option for many, let’s hope they can ‘phone a friend’. If you are visiting a family member regularly, possibly for weeks or months this is a major concern, both in terms of cost and time. Concentrating services outside our borough may be a cost saving for the Primary Care Trust, but it will cost borough residents, particularly less mobile non-drivers, more in money, time and stress.


 3. Quality of Service at the Lister

The new ‘Surgicenter’ at the Lister is operated privately on behalf of the NHS by an arm of Carillion plc called Clincenta. In 2011 Carillion reported £120.8 million in operating profit in 2011.

Recently the Care Quality Commission criticised the centre in a report; staff numbers and training issues gave them cause for concern.  Read a BBC news story here.  Or read a more detailed article in the Stevenage Comet here. Our MP Mr Shapps has also commented on the report saying  “The Surgicentre debacle is as predictable as it is incompetent” , in our local paper, full article here.

As more QE2 hospital services are transferred to the Lister, including night time A&E this is cause for concern. The quality of service at the QE2 is not perfect, but the service on offer at the Lister should be at least as good. There is a feedback section on the NHS website where the public can comment on services received. The Lister A&E only shows 19 feedback reports in the last 18 months, this seems very low. In addition, only just over half of them are positive, they can be read here.

Our new QE2 is scheduled to be opened by Spring 2014, a plan drawing of the site is repeated below (more info on this subject can be found on the Health and Hospital page here.

QE2 Existing and new buildings

New hospital shown in red


Services in the new QE2 are said to include:

 Local A&E, for example:

Abdominal pain, child with a fever, broken bones, deep cuts needing wound stitching, burns and scalds

In addition to:

  • General outpatients
  • GP services, including in the evenings and at weekends
  • Diagnostics – such as CT and MRI scans, x-rays and ultrasound
  • Rapid Assessment Unit – for patients who need urgent assessment and diagnostics but do not need to be admitted into hospital
  • Endoscopy and day treatments
  • Ante and post natal services
  • A dedicated Children’s Centre
  • Therapy services – e.g. physiotherapy and occupational therapy
  • The Vicki Adkins Breast Unit

Full info can be found here.

This does seem quite a lot to fit into a relatively small space, in comparison to the size of the current hospital at least.

The above post is aimed at raising awareness of the changes to our local hospital services. This is widely recognised as a less than ideal development and one that has been fought by local people, and our MP. We are a borough with well over 100,000 people, and yet it’s deemed that a hospital in our own locality is now no longer necessary. In 1952 when the QE2 opened our resident population was quite a lot lower with about 20,000 in Welwyn Garden and slighly less in Hatfield. Although in modern times although the expansion in out-patient services and more effective medicine means that hospital stays are probably shorter on average than they were in 1952.


If you have any comment or recent experiences on the issues raised here please get in touch and they can be shared through this site.


Permanent link to this article: http://welwynhatfield.co.uk/?p=317