Axing some specialist services at Northampton General and Luton and Dunstable hospitals would be the option with the least effect on travel times for patients, a study shows.
There is no suggestion that NHS bosses will use travel times to decide which A&E and maternity units will be affected in its plans to re-organise services at five hospitals in the NHS South East Midlands region.
But a detailed study, which showed the impact if emergency and specialist care was removed from different combinations of hospitals, showed the least impact on journey times would be felt if patients at Northampton General Hospital (NGH), as well as at Luton and Dunstable, bore the brunt of the changes.
It suggests rush hour travel both by ambulance and by private car would not be affected as much as the other possible options.
Closing services at both NGH and Kettering General Hospital would have the biggest impact on travel times.
Health bosses are seeking to downgrade two out of five hospitals so, in future, they would concentrate on planned, rather than emergency, operations.
Their consultant-led obstetrics units would also become midwifery-led.
The Chron reported last week it could mean the closure of NGH’s Gosset Ward.
However, NHS bosses, who are still consulting with patients, said patients had the best chance of survival if expertise was concentrated in fewer hospitals as it gave surgical teams more vital experience.
Patients’ views must be received at www.healthier together.northamptonshire.nhs.uk by Friday, September 21.
Mums have expressed concern on the Chron’s Facebook page about proposed changes at NGH. Charlotte Grundy said: “Our daughter spent two-and-a-half weeks on Gosset when she was six weeks premature. It’s hard enough when you have to leave them at all, let alone in another town.” But others said they could see the benefits. Eileen Beesley said: “Emotions aside, reducing the number of sites and providing more specialist care can be a good idea. I’d want the best, not the closest.”