No doubts over hospital takeover

HOSPITAL bosses have said competition laws would not be broken if Birmingham NHS trusts take over the running of the Alexandra Hospital.

NHS leaders in Worcestershire said any change to the running of hospital services in Worcestershire would be subject to policy not EU competition law.

The move comes after a meeting of the Worcestershire Acute Hospitals NHS Trust was earlier this week about the future of the Alex.

During the meeting chief executive Penny Venables said: “There are issues that would need to be confirmed around competition law.

“What we have made clear as a trust is that we are committed to providing the fullest range of services we can across all three of our hospital sites.”

Non-executive director Bryan McGinty said Eamonn Kelly, chief executive of NHS Worcestershire, had indicated a number of potential issues with a Birmingham NHS trust taking over the hospital, including that it may be infringing competition law.

However, speaking after the meeting Mr Kelly, senior responsible officer for the review of services, said: “These rules are complicated but it is clear that this kind of proposal could be approved by the Department of Health.

“Transfers between NHS providers occur all the time. For example in 2011 we transferred a number of services to Worcestershire Acute Hospitals Trust, including the Wyre Forest Community Unit.”

He added: “As people are aware there is a lot of work still to do in respect of the Joint Services Review (JSR) but we are clear that competition law wouldn’t be a specific problem if the alternative providers of services were the right answer for our population.”

Senior GPs in the north of the county are in talks with several Birmingham NHS trusts about the possibility of one of them running the Alex Hospital.

However, no formal options have yet been announced about the future shape of county health services.

It is hoped proposals for ‘public engagement’ can be announced in March, 14 months after the JSR into the future of local health services was launched.

The JSR has left a cloud hanging over the Alex Hospital while project leaders seek to address shortages in staff, including middle grade doctors, and save money (£50 million across acute hospitals) through centralising certain key services.

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