DOCTORS’ calls for other options to save services at the Alexandra Hospital to be explored have been rejected by the group responsible for buying in healthcare services in Redditch and Bromsgrove.
Dr Jonathan Wells, chair and clinical lead of Redditch and Bromsgrove Clinical Commissioning Group, has told GPs they are unable to look at alternatives to the proposed downgrading of paediatric, maternity and A&E services at the Woodrow Drive hospital – known as modified option 1 – as they have been blocked by commissioners elsewhere in Worcestershire and senior officials within NHS England.
The Standard reported last week how GPs on the Redditch and Bromsgrove Advisory Forum (RBAF) fear the current proposal for the Alex – which would see consultant-led maternity services, inpatient paediatrics and a portion of emergency services centralised into Worcester – is unsustainable and could put patients at risk.
The forum is also insisting all other possible options are fully worked up, including Option 2 which would have seen University Hospitals Birmingham (UHB) take over running services at the Alex.
But in reply Dr Wells said without support from other commissioners and NHS England the focus would be on ensuring the current option was clinically and financially sustainable.
“I am fully aware our stakeholders, including the members of RBAF, want us to see if there are any other options, including those involving alternative providers. However, as part of the NHS England assurance process for hospital reconfigurations, support for the clinical model must be demonstrated by all the affected commissioners. There is no support from NHS England or the other CCGs in Worcestershire for Option 2 or for the development of any other alternative options, meaning we simply cannot pursue this any further.”
He said before any proposal was put to the public the current option would have to be reviewed by West Midlands Clinical Senate to ensure it was clinically sustainable – due to be carried out in October – and would then have to be scrutinised again by NHS England before consultation could take place. Dr Wells added concerns about training recognition were also being looked at.
A separate statement on behalf of the CCG said the Independent Clinical Review Panel (ICRP) had already reviewed Option 2 but had ruled it was not viable, a recommendation the CCG had accepted six months ago.
But members of the Save the Alex campaign group say the ICRP was flawed as UHB was never allowed to work up its option and no information was shared with it. The group has threatened to challenge the decision through the courts.