DOCTORS across Worcestershire have thrown their weight behind Redditch and Bromsgrove GPs’ verdict that new health plans for the Alexandra Hospital are unworkable.
A statement of support issued by the Worcestershire Local Medical Committee – representing over 100 general practitioners across the county – has expressed significant concerns about the whole process, and asking for other options to be examined.
Dr Jonathan Wells, chair of Redditch and Bromsgrove Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG), said: “This really does make it much harder for people to get away with suggesting that R&B are an isolated opinion or ‘just being difficult’.”
Local medics hit out after a key report into the future of health services at the Alex – run by Worcestershire Acute Hospitals NHS Trust (WAHT) – failed to endorse the plans as clinically safe.
In addition the report, by the West Midlands Clinical Senate describing the current standing of services run by WAHT, said that ‘there was an unsustainable model of acute health services across Worcestershire which warranted a need for fundamental change and improvement’.
In a statement the CCG said: “We are all in total agreement that the main priority for the CCG is to ensure the population across Redditch and Bromsgrove have access to safe and sustainable services.”
Health professionals are undoubtably frustrated and angry that after four years of planning WAHT has only managed to come up with a proposal that has quickly been branded as unsustainable.
They also feared, such is the dire financial situation of WAHT, that emergency surgery could be moved to Worcester from the Alex within four weeks with maternity and emergency gynaecology services to quickly follow.
They believe part of the problem has been them being restricted to only working with the Worcester-based health trust, rather than having the option of using other providers, for example University Hospital Birmingham.
It now means that plans to put the new health proposals out to public consultation this year will have to be shelved, although a spokeswoman for the Future of Acute Hospital Services in Worcestershire did say they hoped to carry out the process by the end of the year.
Neal Stote, chairman of the Save the Alex campaign said: “This explodes the myth that concerns about proposals for the future of the Alex and the wider financial sustainability of Worcestershire Acute Hospitals NHS Trust are limited to just a few ‘troublemaking’ GPs in Redditch and Bromsgrove.
“In reality those concerns are spread across all parts of the county and not just among GPs.
“The Worcestershire Local Medical Committee has backed up everything we have been saying since June 2012 and the case for looking outside of Worcestershire for solutions to the challenges our NHS faces is now overwhelming.
“The time has come for NHS England and the Programme Board to do the right thing and start looking at options which will maximise services at the Alex, including the possibility of bringing in other providers.”
Under the proposals put forward by WAHT all consultant-led maternity cases would move to Worcester from the Alex along with overnight paediatric care and major accident cases.