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MP Peter Luff’s concern over shake-up of county hospitals
VITAL health services could disappear from Worcestershire if control of one of the county’s main hospitals is handed over to another provider, an MP has warned.
NHS services in Worcestershire are being revamped to try and cut more than £50 million in the next three years and one of the options on the table is for another provider – likely a Birmingham-based hospital trust – to take over delivery of services at Redditch’s Alexandra Hospital.
The other option is for the Alexandra to be downgraded and more serious emergency, women’s and children’s services to be handled by an enhanced operation at Worcestershire Royal in Worcester.
Peter Luff, MP for Mid-Worcestershire, believes the latter is the best option as any move to hand over hospital sites could have “severe consequences”.
“The concern is that someone else might not be so keen to refer specialist patients to Worcestershire, which could damage the viability of services at Worcester,” he said.
“I don’t want to speculate but it is difficult to see Worcestershire Royal and Kidderminster standing alone and providing the services that my constituents need. I think we need to be very cautious indeed about major administrative changes. It could have severe consequences for residents, with important services no longer able to be provided locally.”
The alternative, far more developed, option would see about 25 per cent of emergencies dealt with at Redditch being treated in Worcester.
Mr Luff said he believed this would be the best solution – as does Worcester’s MP Robin Walker.
“I am inclined to think that this is the right way forward,” said Mr Luff.
“All three hospitals are Worcestershire’s hospitals and I think it is about finding the right clinical solution.”
The two remaining options have been whittled down from six by a joint services review (JSR), which published its findings this week.
Responding to Mr Luff, a JSR spokesman said: “The second option, to involve alternative local NHS providers, needs more work.
“This will include the same level of clinical and financial scrutiny that we applied to the first option, where Worcestershire Acute Hospitals Trust runs all three hospitals.
“Before we take any proposals to public engagement we want to be sure that the impact on the whole of Worcestershire is taken into account.”
A three-month public consultation is expected to take place this summer.