A REORGANISATION of Worcestershire Acute Hospitals, which will see all hospital births across the county move permanently to Worcestershire Royal, has been rubber stamped.

The governing bodies of the three county clinical commissioning groups (CCGS), which hold the purse strings of NHS care, unanimously approved the new clinical model during a meeting held at Bromsgrove District Council offices this morning.

Among the major changes in the model will be the controversial, permanent move of all hospital births from the Alexandra Hospital in Redditch to Worcestershire Royal Hospital.

Inpatients children's services similarly are being moved to Worcester, while all emergency surgery will take place at the city hospital in future.

All the governing bodies representatives approved the plan, which still requires £29 million of government funding to implement.

Worcestershire Acute Hospitals NHS Trust point out the new model will save £4.4million a year once implemented.

County doctors representing the CCGs recognised the model had come under fire, with Simon Trickett, chief officer of NHS Redditch, saying he could see it was not "universally popular".

But many on the board highlighted the model was about getting the best possible outcome for county patients and staff, and stressed it would lead to better care.

They added it would now bring stability which in turn will improve recruitment and retention of staff, which has been an issue during the six years it has taken to get to this stage.

NHS bosses also maintain that 95 per cent of patients will continue to receive their care in the same hospital as before.

After the meeting closed, and the public were invited to speak, County Councillor Peter McDonald slammed the decision.

"You have agreed these recommendations, that revolve round centralisation, when you have made the point that transport systems are not good enough," Cllr McDonald said.

He added that the decision would ultimately "cost lives".

And Save the Alex campaigner Neil Stote pointed out that the trust needed to rebuild trust after a six year process, that had ended with a meeting with only a few in the public gallery.

After the meeting Peter Pinfield, chairman of Healthwatch Worcestershire that represents patients in the county, said: "The focus has been on Redditch and the north, but the changes that have been approved will affect everybody.

"Patient safety has always been at the forefront for us.

"The key to this is the £29 million - which (in part) will be used to increase the capacity at Worcestershire Royal Hospital.

"If the government can get that money to us, then the people of the county should start to see improvements."

In a statement Michelle McKay, chief executive of Worcestershire Acute Hospitals NHS Trust, said: “We welcome the CCG Governing Bodies’ approval of the clinical model.

“The outcome will bring much needed certainty for the trust.

“A number of enabling works now need to be carried out in order for us to be able to deliver the proposed clinical model.

“An action plan is in place to deliver these changes by May 2020."

“We remain committed to delivering care in hospitals that thrive and work together, to provide services for the whole of the county.”

The key changes of the new clinical model:

• All hospital births moved from the Alexandra Hospital to the Worcestershire Royal Hospital site.

• Inpatient children's services and emergency surgery moved from the Alex to the Worcestershire Royal.

• Most planned orthopaedic surgery moved from Worcestershire Royal to the Alex.

• Some planned gynaecology surgery moved from Worcestershire Royal to the Alex.

• More planned surgery, for example breast surgery, moved from Worcestershire Royal to the Alex.

•More ambulatory care moved from Worcestershire Royal to the Alex.

•More day case and short stay surgery moved to Kidderminster Hospital.

• Accident and emergency departments at both hospitals remains open 24-hours a day, but the Alex Hospital is for adults (over 16-years-old) only).