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The Future of District General Hospitals


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03 Dec 2014
Surgeons take the lead in redefining general hospitals for the future

Local, general hospitals (formerly known as district general hospitals) will survive in some form in the future, but should operate as part of a network providing emergency and elective surgical care, President of the Federation of Surgical Speciality Associations (FSSA) John MacFie said today in a statement published on behalf of all the surgical Royal Colleges and surgical specialties.

Following a meeting of surgical leaders, the consensus is that there are too many hospitals in the UK and Ireland attempting to provide emergency and a wide range of elective care. The profession agreed that it should lead a reappraisal of the function of general hospitals to ensure high quality patient care into the future.

Speaking on behalf of the FSSA and as Chair of the Surgical Forum of Great Britain and Ireland, John MacFie said: “Not every hospital that existed in 1948 can provide everything in 2014. The result of trying to achieve this is an escalating problem of too many general hospitals attempting, and failing, to provide safe emergency and elective surgical care. This growing problem must be tackled urgently. The only way forward is to reappraise the function of all hospitals to achieve optimum patient care. But, there is no place for vested interest groups to campaign to keep unsafe and unviable small hospitals open.”

The joint statement from surgical leaders, The Future of District General Hospitals, puts forward a series of solutions that include:

  • Redefinition of the function of general hospitals
  • A political solution that allows hospitals to form networks and work together
  • Better integration of health and social care
  • Blurring of the interface between primary and secondary care.

“We want to achieve consistent high quality emergency hospital care with access to specialist interventions for all. This aspiration will continue to drive the reorganisation of our hospital service to ensure we can provide the very best in patient care,” John MacFie concluded.


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