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Robin Walker on review of hospital services in Worcestershire
A WORCESTER MP has denied campaigners’ claims he is ‘sitting on the fence’ over a controversial review of hospital services which could result in shutting an accident and emergency department.
Robin Walker said it was important to wait for a shortlist of options to be published in the clinically-led ‘joint services review’ (JSR) which could lead to emergency and maternity services being centralised on one hospital site.
Campaigners in the north of the county fear services will shut at Redditch rather than at the Private Finance Initiative hospital in Worcester.
The JSR, launched in January, is to plug a £50 million gap in NHS finances which will open up over the next three years unless something is done as funding is not keeping pace with rising patient demand and the cost of new treatments.
NHS bosses also believe centralising some services could solve staffing shortages and recruitment problems and improve patient care, allowing the development of centres of excellence.
But Neal Stote, chairman of the Save the Alex Campaign, has written to Robin Walker to say Worcestershire Royal Hospital will not be able to cope with the influx of patients if services close at the Alexandra Hospital in Redditch.
In an open letter he said Mr Walker had “missed the point” that there was little spare capacity at Worcester.
He said Worcester could be forced to take the 55,000 patients who use the A&E at Redditch each year and provide care for 2,300 babies delivered there each year.
Mr Stote said: “He’s sitting on the fence. He doesn’t think it’s going to affect Worcester but there is no way Worcester will cope with the extra patients.
“If you think car parking is bad at Worcester at the moment, what will it be like when you get the overflow from the Alex?”
Mr Stote said support from the campaign was growing with more than 51,000 signatures on the Save the Alex petition so far.
Mr Walker admitted he was concerned about capacity problems at Worcester and said it was ‘not the case’ that he was sitting on the fence.
He said: “We have to let the clinicians have their say then it’s right for the politicians to get involved and speak up for their constituents.
“I don’t apologise for putting Worcester’s interests first. That’s my job. We need to wait and see what that shortlist is going to be and what it’s going to say.” No date has been announced for the publication of the shortlist.