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Public face wait to have their say on future of county hospitals
A MUCH-delayed public consultation on the future of county hospitals is now extremely unlikely to happen this year, health bosses have admitted.
The future of acute hospitals, such as Worcestershire Royal and Redditch Alexandra, has been up in the air for almost 18 months ahead of a proposed service reconfiguration aiming to save £50 million while continuing to provide a safe and effective service to patients.
Several options were initially on the table but these were whittled down to two earlier this year.
One would see Worcestershire Acute Hospitals NHS Trust continuing to run services at Worcester, Redditch and Kidderminster, with more centralisation at Worcester, while the other would see an alternative provider brought in to run services at the Alexandra.
It had been anticipated that more detailed proposals would be put to the public this autumn.
But Lesley Murphy, director for NHS England in Worcestershire, told a meeting of Worcestershire’s health and wellbeing board on Tuesday that was now unlikely to happen this year.
She said the two options would both now undergo independent clinical and financial reviews and that this process was likely to take about three months – essentially ruling out any prospect of the public having their say before the end of the year.
Health and wellbeing board chairman Marcus Hart said he was concerned at the length of time taken and the apparent lack of communication with the public.
“To the public at large this has been going on for quite some time and, certainly from my point of view, it seems to have gone exceptionally quiet,” he said.
“In terms of the two options that came out in the spring, we want to know when there will be something that is tangible to go out to the public of Worcestershire. The reality then is that it will not be until January next year.”
Peter Pinfield, chairman of official health watchdog Healthwatch Worcestershire, said he believed the public should have been kept much better informed.
“From a public point of view we have got to get this right,” he said. “But I would not be doing my duty if I did not say that there is a real sense of frustration out there in Worcestershire.
"We have got to be a little more upfront and honest with the public about what we are doing.”
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