REDDITCH’S local health trust has failed to deny claims that Accident and Emergency at the Alexandra Hospital is to be downgraded.
The Save the Alex campaign group says Worcestershire Acute Hospitals NHS Trust (WAHT) has drawn up plans that could result in thousands of local people being sent to alternative hospitals, including Worcestershire Royal, in an emergency.
It says the move would effectively reduce the Alex to cottage hospital status with a GP-led ‘A&E’ service and ‘ambulatory care’ – ie – non-emergency admissions.
The Woodrow Drive hospital currently sees around 150 patients a day in A&E. Of these, around 50-60 are admitted.
Of those admissions, Save The Alex believe less than 20 of these would be suitable for ambulatory care. This would leave around 40 patients a day having to be sent to Worcester or other hospitals. In return, it is understood Worcestershire Royal would be increased in size with 80 additional beds.
Neal Stote, chairman of Save the Alex said: “The information has been confirmed by multiple sources and Save the Alex now wants the Trust and commissioners to come clean about what they know about the plan and justify it to the public.”
Mr Stote added that the trust had already agreed a model of care of the Alex, which included proper Accident and Emergency service for adults and this model starts its progress towards approval by the West Midlands Clinical Senate on April 21.
Staff have spoken of their fears that the Alex would be turned into a rehabilitation centre rather than a fully functioning hospital serving all of north Worcestershire and west Warwickshire.
“What they are proposing is exactly what they wanted back in 2012 and they have got to be stopped,” said Mr Stote.
The trust has a poor reputation and has been struggling to retain and recruit nurses and the fear is that it will use this as a tool to say it can no longer safely staff its A&E department.
Dr Jonathan Wells, the former chairman of the Redditch and Bromsgrove Clinical Commisisoning Group said: It’s of great concern to read the release from Save The Alex concerning the Acute Medicine Service at the Alexandra site.
“Any plans to downgrade this service would be very troubling, and would fly in the face of both the agreed clinical model which is about to be reviewed by West Midlands Clinical Senate, and the outcome of the Independent Clinical Review Panel.
“Is it a valid story? Unfortunately, WAHT does have form in suddenly and unexpectedly announcing ’emergency closure’ of services at the Alex site – eg last summer for Emergency Gynaecology and last autumn for Maternity. Both ’emergency’ downgrades were announced on a Friday afternoon. It’s therefore unsurprising that reports around the Acute Medicine Service are being treated seriously by stakeholders.”
For the full Save the Alex release visit http://www.savethealex.co.uk/downgrade/
For Dr Well’s views on the issue, visit http://rbafchair.blogspot.co.uk/2016/04/the-full-acute-medicine-service-at.html
In a full response, Chris Tidman chief executive of Worcestershire Acute Hospitals NHS Trust said: “We remain fully committed to the clinical model which has been developed by clinicians from across the County and is currently going forward to the Clinical Senate. This proposal supports an adult only A&E and a new GP urgent care service which means that 95 per cent of patients will continue to be seen and assessed at the Alexandra.
“This kind of speculation about the closure of parts of our hospitals infrastructure is very damaging as we rely on two emergency departments across Worcestershire and will do for many years to come to meet the needs of the local population. Undermining confidence in their future will make it harder for us to recruit.
“In addition to this immediate work, the county, like all other areas, is also required to develop a ‘Sustainability and Transformation Plan’ (STP). This requires organisations in Herefordshire and Worcestershire to review health and wellbeing, care and quality, and funding and efficiency over the next five years.
“Part of this work includes clinically–led discussions on creating a ten year vision for medicine across the county. An initial clinical discussion on how to develop a countywide vision for medicine has taken place but no plans are in place and no decisions or options have been agreed or made. Any additional options and the development of any proposals as part of the STP will involve all stakeholders including the public.
“Our main focus is developing safe and sustainable services across Worcestershire along with providing reassurance to both staff and members of the public so they are fully aware of which hospital site delivers which care. Any other discussions that are taking place are longer term and do not relate to the clinical model.”
He added: “Under the proposed changes, the emergency pathways will be reconfigured to divert five per cent of the most acute emergencies directly to Worcestershire Royal A&E, while ensuring that 95 per cent of patients continue to be seen and assessed at Alexandra Hospital.
“Over a two to three year period the A&E Department at the Alexandra Hospital will convert to a networked Emergency Centre as recommended in the Keogh Report.
“It will be for adults only but will be capable of safe initial management and transfer if a very sick child arrives unexpectedly. Emergency flow pathways to support the changes have been agreed with West Midlands Ambulance Service NHS Foundation Trust (WMAS). A primary care led Urgent Care Centre for children and adults will be integrated within the emergency department at the Alexandra Hospital. Care for children in the Urgent Care Centre will be supported by:
1) Staff on duty trained in paediatric life support to manage any unexpectedly ill child
2) Staff from the Emergency Department
3) Access to immediate telephone/telemedicine support from paediatric consultants at the Worcestershire Royal Hospital
4) Secondary transfer arrangements to inpatient facilities
5) Community hub arrangements including links to an enhanced hospital at home service.
“The A&E Department at WRH will evolve into a Major Emergency Centre, with 14 to 16 A&E consultants, some of whom will provide cover to the Alexandra Emergency Centre on a rotating basis, supported by middle-grade staff.”