A CANCER survivor has attacked a potential merger which could see a Birmingham NHS trust take over a Worcestershire hospital.
Two senior consultants have expressed their fears for the future of key services at Worcestershire Acute Hospitals NHS Trust if a Birmingham trust takes over the Alexandra Hospital in Redditch.
Now, cancer survivor Paul Crawford, aged 71, of Highfield Close, Droitwich, a patient representative on the board of Worcestershire trust and a long-term campaigner for better cancer services in the county, has added his voice to the protests.
Mr Crawford, who has led calls for radiotherapy to be brought to or doorstep in Worcester so sick patients do not have to travel to Cheltenham and Wolverhampton for the life-saving treatment, said: “There’s no doubt the services are getting better in Worcestershire each day.
“We don’t want to spoil that by bringing in another provider which means we have to start again from zero.”
No decisions have yet been taken but two options are being ‘worked up’ – one involving downgrading the A&E at Redditch and centralising A&E, obstetrics and paediatrics at Worcester and the other bringing in another trust to run the Alex.
Some consultants believe the viability of countywide services such as vascular surgery, oncology services, bariatric surgery, haematological cancers and interventional cardiology could be damaged if the Worcestershire trust loses Redditch and Bromsgrove patients to another NHS trust.
However, a GP leader from the Redditch and Bromsgrove clinical commissioning group, which pays for services in the north, said the full implications of a merger are not known until detailed work is completed, a view echoed by Neal Stote, chairman of the Save the Alex campaign.
Mr Stote said: “Until the options are worked up, nobody knows (what will happen).
“You can close a service but you can’t get rid of the patients.”
Former Wyre Forest MP Dr Richard Taylor, a former hospital consultant and president of Health Concern, said: “Anything that would destabilise that Worcester-Kidderminster (hospitals) partnership would be a disaster.
“I think the Redditch people feel that if they move to Birmingham they may get more than they’re going to get from Worcestershire acute.
“I’m sure that’s not the case. I am concerned about the risk to services at Worcester and Kidderminster.”
Worcester’s MP Robin Walker said: “I think with the radiotherapy unit at the clinical decisions unit at Worcester we are in a better place than we have been for some time.
“We need to focus, with the clinicians, on how they make sure we have the best, sustainable footprint of services for Worcestershire.”
Dr Jonathan Wells, chairman and clinical lead of the Redditch and Bromsgrove CCG, said: “Option two (which would see an alternative provider taking over the Alexandra Hospital site and running a wide range of services) has not yet been worked up, so we do not know the full implications.
“However, ensuring the provision of the cancer and specialist services is the responsibility of NHS England, and we will all need to work with them to ensure that these key services are available to all county patients whatever the outcome of the review.”