Closure of a county A&E unit ‘may improve care’

REVIEW: An NHS shake-up could see the closure of the A&E department at Worcestershire Royal Hospital, Worcester.

REVIEW: An NHS shake-up could see the closure of the A&E department at Worcestershire Royal Hospital, Worcester.

First published in News Worcester News: Photograph of the Author by

CLOSING a hospital accident and emergency department in Worcestershire may improve patient care and solve staffing shortages in one go, says a top consultant.

Rose Johnson, an A&E consultant and assistant medical director at Worcestershire Acute Hospitals NHS Trust, said centralising emergency care at a single hospital could bring “real advantages for patients”.

She was speaking after a Joint Services Review was announced by health bosses in Worcestershire.

Although not yet out for public consultation, six models for change have been unveiled, ranging from no change at all to the centralisation of services.

One of the most emotive options on the table is getting rid of one of the county’s two accident and emergency departments – in Worcester and Redditch – which has already prompted a campaign to save the A&E department in Redditch.

Ms Johnson believes a centralised A&E department would allow better consultant cover in emergencies for a longer period of time, including weekends.

At the moment there are two consultants on shift between 9am and 7pm, Monday to Thursday, and between 9am and 6pm on a Friday. They are on-call at weekends at both hospitals.

Ms Johnson says the new system would mean a consultant would be on hand 16 hours a day on weekdays and 12 hours a day at weekends.

She said: “I know patients get worried about the idea of people dying in the back of an ambulance but we know from experience at Kidderminster Hospital that it’s very, very rare that the increased journey time makes any difference to a patient’s outcome.”

At the moment, there are five consultants at Worcester and four at Redditch, but a central emergency department would provide more expertise in one place with a team of nine.

The hospitals trust, along with others in the country, is also having trouble recruiting middle-grade doctors to staff their accident and emergency departments.

Mrs Johnson said the A&E department at Worcester-shire Royal Hospital in Worcester should have nine permanent middle-grade doctors, but instead had three.

There are six vacant middle-grade doctor posts at Worcester and three at Redditch, which have to be filled by locums and can be more expensive than paying members of their own staff.

Ms Johnson said it would take nine middle-grade doctors to staff an A&E department which could be provided through centralising services. Ms Johnson said there were clinical advantages to centralisation in other areas, including stroke care and 24-hour stenting for heart attack patients.

NHS bosses argue that it is also easier to recruit and retain staff if some services are centralised.


Post a comment

Remember you are personally responsible for what you post on this site and must abide by our site terms. Do not post anything that is false, abusive or malicious. If you wish to complain, please use the ‘report this post’ link.

Send us your news, pictures and videos

Most read stories

Local Info

Enter your postcode, town or place name

About cookies

We want you to enjoy your visit to our website. That's why we use cookies to enhance your experience. By staying on our website you agree to our use of cookies. Find out more about the cookies we use.

I agree