CAMPAIGNERS have criticised delays in a controversial review of NHS hospital services which could lead to the closure of a Worcestershire hospital’s A&E.

We reported on Friday that plans for the future of the county’s hospital services will not be decided until at least the new year.

Concerns have been raised that the Alexandra Hospital in Redditch could lose its A&E and maternity services, leading to a petition to save the hospital which gained more than 54,000 signatures.

A further delay to the publication of a shortlist of options was announced on Thursday following a meeting of the Joint Services Review (JSR) steering group on Wednesday.

An earlier delay in producing a shortlist was announced in September.

Neal Stote, chairman of the Save the Alex campaign, said in a statement yesterday: “The Save the Alex campaign team cautiously welcomes the announcement from the JSR but we feel it raises as many questions as it answers and would welcome greater clarification on the implications for the Alexandra Hospital as soon as possible.

“We also remain concerned about the impact a further delay will have on staff morale and attempts to retain and recruit staff as, by the time shortlisted options are released, services will have been under threat for more than six months.

“We feel the decision announced on Thursday shows just how unprepared the trust was when it came out with its six original models and had not considered many of the factors the campaign and the public has raised with them.

“The JSR has now moved from a position of looking to reduce services, with potentially the closure of two hospitals in the county, to now looking at providing as much as possible at all three sites.

“We feel that is the position they should have started with in the first place, rather than rush through a decision based on an unrealistic timetable that was clearly designed to solve the trust’s financial problems rather than focus on the best interests of patients.”