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Transforming NHS emergency services

Letter from Westminster - 1 November 2004

Figures released last week showed that we are making progress in transforming NHS emergency services. Labour's record investment is working, with 19 out of 20 people no being seen, diagnosed and treated within four hours nationwide.

Bristol's doctors and nurses have, I know, been working phenomenally hard to fulfil this patient priority, but there is undoubtedly still some way to go before our hospitals match the best in Britain. We are not going to meet this challenge by simply making the staff work harder and harder - we must, instead, change the way our health services are set up.

There is a whole range of accidents that occur, unfortunately, in day-to-day life - from the relatively minor, to the more serious and life-threatening. Yet, until recently there was only on place we could go to get treatement: the BRI's A&E Department.

The Walk-In Centre in Knowle has shown that much of this treatment can be provided away from the acute hospital environment. A wide variety of problems, from muscle and joint injuries to flu, ear infections and minor eye conditions, are now dealt with locally.

But more can and should be provided here, which is why the plans for the South Bristol Hospital are so exciting. Many of the treatments that are stil only available at the BRI - advanced wound closure and stitching; dislocated joints; plastering fractures; eye injury; X-Rays; CT scans; ultrasound; to name but a few - would be on offer locally. This would be a real step forward, I believe, giving local people the high quality and convenience they deserve.

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