Surgeon’s blistering attack on East Lancashire hospital changes

A RESPECTED surgeon – who has retired after 22 years’ service to Burnley General Hospital – has launched a withering attack on the way the hospital is now being run.

By Dominic Collis
Saturday, 14th May 2011, 8:50 am

General surgeon Mr David Sandilands (64) reflected on a career which he said had changed beyond recognition since his days as a student at Manchester Medical School.

Mr Sandilands left with a parting shot at the changes implemented across East Lancashire saying the hospital was “more like a factory now”.

He said: “I have thoroughly enjoyed my time working in Burnley, a place which is now my home, and I have met lots of lovely people who I will miss.

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“However, the job is unrecognisable now. The whole atmosphere has changed for the worse. Hospitals are more like factories now – targets have become priorities and as such patient care has suffered. Morale among staff has suffered too because of the way they are being treated by management. It has caused a lot of insecurity. Dedicated teams are being broken up which inevitably affects the continuity of care.

“I understand the Trust board to some extent is told what it has to do and has to make savings, but I think there has to be a major change in priority.”

Mr Sandilands said he was proud of his achievements at Burnley and cited his introduction of one-stop-shops for breast cancer and colorectal patients, the former being one of the first in the country. He said the introduction of laparoscopic, or keyhole surgery, had also been a step forward.

The former Hull Grammar School pupil added that while advancements in medical science had been positive, most aspects of surgical work had remained the same. “I wanted to be a surgeon from the age of 11 and chose general surgery because I like the variety. These days general surgeons are becoming rarer because most people go into a specialism.”

Mr Sandilands said he will continue to work part-time at Gisburne Park Hospital and Fulwood Hospital, Preston, and spend more time pursuing his love of classic cars and cycling. He also plans to buy a motorhome with wife Liz and travel around Europe and the British Isles.

“I take with me a lot of satisfaction from my work and will miss a lot of people. I hope the changes taking place across the health service will be for the better, but I maintain patient care has to be the priority.”