UNIVERSITY Hospitals Birmingham (UHB) says ‘it is still open to discussion’ on playing a greater role in the future of the Alexandra Hospital.
The announcement comes after the local health trust, which had previously rejected pleas from Redditch and Bromsgrove doctors to to engage with UHB, did a U-turn earlier this week and asked them to start offering patients the choice of going to Birmingham hospitals instead of Worcester for treatment.
The decision came after Worcester Acute Hospitals NHS Trust (WAHT) revealed that it is losing £1 million a week and missing three key targets on accident and emergency care, referral to treatment times and cancer care.
However in a sign of lines being drawn, a further UHB statement added: “It will be disappointing for the Trust staff and, more importantly, for our patients from the Trust’s catchment area, if we see the level of service we currently offer negatively affected by an influx of patients from outside the area.”
At stake is the future of the Alexandra Hospital which for WAHT is a key asset in its ability to treat patients and thereby reduce waiting times – a role it could also play if it was taken over by UHB.
In a further turn of events health secretary Jeremy Hunt, quoted in the Health Service Journal, has said that there are ‘too many trusts’ in the NHS and predicting that there will be more mergers and chains developing.
He then goes on to praise Dame Julie Moore, chief executive of UHB and her team saying: “They would be quite capable of running multiple hospitals and we should be tapping into their ability to do that.”
Doctors in Redditch and Bromsgrove will now be actively promoting the QE – 20 minutes away by train – and Birmingham Womens’ Hospital as alternative places to go for treatment instead of the Worcestershire Royal Hospital.
It’s a move that prompted UHB to say: “We hope this latest development will promote further discussion around providing appropriate care for the people of Redditch and Bromsgrove.”
In a statement WAHT said: “The revised clinical model for the Future of Acute Hospital Services in Worcestershire (FoAHSW) is due to be submitted to the West Midlands Clinical Senate in the next few weeks and it will give Worcestershire a blueprint to move forward with safe and sustainable clinical services for patients.
“Throughout the process, the programme board has been in discussion with neighbouring hospitals about the effects the proposals could have on them and it will continue to involve them going forward.
“Worcestershire Acute Hospitals NHS Trust will still be taking referrals if patients choose to go there. Patients have the right to be treated where they wish and GPs will help patients make that informed choice.”