HEALTH chiefs have come out fighting in defence of the Alex saying it is a vital component of care in the county and that its 24-hour A&E will continue.
However Penny Venables, chief executive of the Worcestershire Acute Hospitals NHS Trust acknowledged that changes would be taking place, but these would result in improved health care for all.
“We are not denying that some changes will go through,” she said.
“But the Alex will still be here and the changes we are making will bring better outcomes for patients.
“Similar actions are happening all over the country where key specialists are being brought together under one roof.
“If you’ve got a particular condition surely it’s better to be treated by someone who is a specialist in that condition rather than someone who only sees it three or four times a year.”
Campaigners say these changes will reduce services at the Alex for residents resulting in them having to undertake an 18 mile journey to the Worcestershire Royal for many conditions.
Services earmarked for moving include overnight injuries to children, doctor-led maternity cases and some major accident and emergency cases.
However health chiefs insist 93 per cent of A&E patients would still be seen at the Alex while a child assessment unit would operate at the Alex and a midwife-led maternity unit.
The chief executive used the example of major trauma, for which the Midlands has three centres of excellence at Stoke, Birmingham and Coventry.
“If you are in a major incident right outside Worcestershire Royal, they wouldn’t take you there, you’d go straight to Birmingham,” Mrs Venables added.
“And if a child was seriously ill, they wouldn’t go to Worcestershire Royal, they’d rightly go to the Children’s Hospital because it is a centre of excellence.”
Mrs Venables was responding to growing concerns over the future of the Alex due to the continued failure of West Midlands health chiefs to publish their verdict on a report into the future of the hospital.
The plan, known as ‘modified option one’, first saw the light of day back in 2012 however Government re-organisation of the NHS followed by repeated delays at regional level, and now the news that the report won’t be published until after the General Election on May 7, have fed fears into the future of the hospital.
“This has been going on for a very long time and we are just as frustrated as everyone else.” she added.
Referring to the march planned for May 2, called because of concerns over the hospital’s future, she said: “If people want to have a march because they think the Alex is closing then they are marching for the wrong reasons.”