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Anxious wait over hospital's future
PATIENTS and campaigners will have to wait until at least the New Year to find out whether NHS chiefs plan to shut their hospital’s A&E and maternity services.
Health chiefs announced today that they would be looking to deliver services at all three hospitals - Worcestershire Royal Hospital in Worcester, the Alexandra Hospital in Redditch and Kidderminster Hospital.
However, they issued no guarantee that the Redditch hospital will keep its A&E and maternity services and have said the hospital is ‘most likely to be affected’ by any changes.
There is also still no shortlist of options for any service overhaul following a meeting of the joint services review (JSR) steering group on Wednesday. Leaders said they now aim to have more public engagement, publish a shortlist of options and formally consult with the public in January.
This is the second such delay following another steering group meeting last month which ruled that more information was needed before a shortlist was published.
NHS Worcestershire’s chief executive, Eamonn Kelly, said: “Although no final shortlist has been drawn up we are now focusing our work on delivering services at all three hospitals.”
Bosses will now review and refine the clinical and financial detail of the models but say they want as many services as possible at Redditch. This involves seeing if parts of the NHS can work more closely together to provide some health services. No details of this have yet been published but Dr Richard Taylor, the former Wyre Forest MP and a member of the stakeholder reference board which represents the public and patients in the review, said he understood GPs from the Redditch and Bromsgrove clinical commissioning group were in talks with the NHS in Birmingham to see if hospitals there could provide emergency care for patients in north Worcestershire but a JSR spokesman refused to confirm this today.
Dr Taylor said it would be easier for patients in these areas to get to a Birmingham hospital than Worcester in an emergency.
NHS leaders and clinicians involved in the JSR have agreed that ‘no change’ is not an option as they seek to save £50 million across our hospitals over the next three years and £200 million from across the NHS in Worcestershire as a whole.
Dr Taylor, also a retired hospital consultant, said: “I think we can say Kidderminster Hospital is safe. It doesn’t look good for the Alexandra Hospital although they have said quite clearly they’re going to keep all three hospitals open but, for what exactly, we don’t know.”
Dr Taylor said it was not surprising the NHS had to rationalise services like obstetrics (maternity services and care for women and babies before and after they have given birth) services and A&E because of the shortage of middle grade doctors needed to staff these services.