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We must not allow knee-jerk people to bully us
HEALTH chiefs embarking on the biggest shake-up of county healthcare in a generation must not be “bullied” by populist campaigns, a leading councillor has said.
The joint service review – which will be the subject of a full public consultation in the autumn – has already been floated by health bosses.
One of the most emotive options on the table for the future consultation is getting rid of one of the county’s two accident and emergency departments.
Individual locations are not yet being discussed.
However, of the three main hospitals at Worcester, Redditch and Kidderminster, Worcestershire Royal and the Alexandra Hospital have A&E services.
At Wychavon District Council, councillors debated the shake-up but agreed that wherever hospital services ended up, health chiefs must consider the needs of patients to physically get to these services, and that they are open all hours.
Councillor Judy Pearce said whatever happened, a 24/7 A&E service was “vitally important”.
She also delivered some hard words to what she described as “the knee-jerk people” raising petitions to prevent the loss of localised A&E services, including the Save The Alex campaign group, which opposes the loss of its A&E service.
“It is a huge problem, and they do need to get out to these knee-jerk people and explain to them the issues of the costs and efficiencies involved. Only clinical leaders [doctors, nurses, consultants] can do that explaining, and I think they do need to step forward.
“And it’s important we aren’t bullied into the wrong decisions by people who are not fully informed.
“It’s a hard decision but equally, it’s a decision that must be made.”
Coun Liz Tucker agreed, saying that people understandably had huge loyalties to their local hospitals, and it was difficult for clinicians to make them understand the difficult choices they were facing.
She added, however, that health leaders “cannot walk away” from the burden of costs its decisions may dump in the laps of other local authorities, for example transport costs.
Coun John Smith, who is also the county’s highways chief, said: “I had a recent conversation with the leader of the health trust, who told me, ‘John, we’re going to need a few more buses’.
“And I said, ‘No problem, we need some money off the health trust’ and he told me, ‘John, we haven’t got any money’.”
l The review can be viewed at worcestershirehealth.nhs. uk/joint-services-review.