A LONG-awaited independent report into an extensive review of hospital services in Worcestershire will not be released until after May’s General Election, it has been revealed.

The project, which will rearrange which services are delivered at the county’s three acute hospitals –Worcestershire Royal Hospital, Kidderminster Hospital and Redditch’s Alexandra Hospital – has been in progress since 2012 and was originally planned to be fully complete by the end of last year.

But it has been plagued by delays, including the announcement last year the West Midlands Clinical Senate was to examine the plans and put together an independent report.

Although it was previously planned this report would be presented in February, in a letter to Redditch Borough Council chief executive Kevin Dicks dated Thursday, March 19 the clinical senate’s chairman Dr David Hegarty confirmed it would now not be released until after the pre-election purdah period.

In the letter Dr Hegarty said he and his colleagues considered it would be “inappropriate” to publish the report while purdah was in place.

“The purpose of the report is to offer independent advice to the Future of Acute Hospital Services in Worcestershire Programme Board on the developing proposals for future service models,” he wrote.

“Any final proposals that the Programme Board chooses to make will be subject to public consultation.

“We recognise that this unavoidable delay may be disappointing.

“We look forward to the Future of Acute Hospital Services in Worcestershire Programme Board publishing the findings of the review once the purdah period, for both the local and national elections, has ended. “

Purdah is the period immediately before an election during which civil servants and politicians are restricted from making long-term decisions which may be reversed by the following government.

Although the pre-General Election purdah period does not begin until Monday, March 30, notice of local election in Redditch and Bromsgrove was posted on Monday, March 16, meaning the period in the district began this month.

The project is intended to allow the trust to continue to offer the best quality care to as many patients as possible in the face of increased lifespans, falling budgets and increased demand.

Among the proposals being examined are to set up a networked Major Emergency Centre at the Royal where the most seriously ill or injuries patients will be taken, but keeping the Alex’s A&E department open for less serious incidents.

It has also been proposed to centralise consultant-led maternity services at the Royal while setting up a stand-alone midwife-led birth centre in the north of the county.

Last year it was announced a public consultation into the plans, previously slated for September 2014, would also not be held until after the General Election.

For more information on the project visit www.worcsfuturehospitals.co.uk.