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Doctors intent on keeping A&E and maternity services
12:24pm Thursday 19th September 2013 in News
DOCTORS say they want to keep full maternity and A&E services in the north of the county - not have them centralised in Worcester.
The future of the services currently offered at the Alexandra Hospital in Redditch has been thrown into doubt during an ongoing review of acute hospital services in Worcestershire aimed at saving £50 million.
Two options are still being considered. One is for Worcestershire Acute Hospitals Trust to continue running all three of its existing sites - Worcestershire Royal Hospital, Kidderminster Hospital and the Alexandra.
But this would see A&E, maternity and major paediatric services centralised at Worcester.
The other option is for another provider, likely a Birmingham-based hospital trust, to take over responsibility for the Alexandra. It has not yet been made clear exactly what this would mean for services in Redditch.
Independent clinical and financial reviews of the two options have just got underway and are expected to take about three months.
But in the meantime Redditch and Bromsgrove Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG) - responsible for buying health services for the areas - has released a new draft prospectus for 2014/15 outlining what it wants provided at the Alexandra.
The document is centred on the existing range of services at the hospital, including full A&E and maternity services.
The commissioners say providing full, consultant-led obstetrics at Redditch is an “important local service”.
They cite Redditch having a growing young population and that it could potentially ease capacity pressures in Birmingham.
They also insist emergency care should be delivered locally, raising capacity and accessibility concerns should the A&E at the Alexandra be downgraded to an urgent care centre.
The prospectus acknowledges that centralisation of other services such as stroke has worked in Worcestershire.
But it adds: “The success of previous centralisation is not a reason in itself to centralise other services.
“Our duty as a CCG is to secure the provision of the best possible range of services for the population. We are of course mindful our decisions may impact on the wider Worcestershire and West Midlands health economies, but this process must be focused on the best overall solution for patient services, irrespective of provider.”
Neal Stote, chairman of the Save the Alex campaign group fighting to retain services in Redditch, said: “We are pleased to see our GPs have listened and are seeking to secure key services in line with their patients wishes. The reality of whether this is possible is another question given the very real problems the NHS as a whole is battling with, but it’s right the question should be asked.”
Members of the public are now being invited to comment on the draft prospectus.
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