COMMISSIONERS have been forced to delay consultation on the future of the county’s hospitals after failing to pass a key check by senior NHS chiefs.
NHS England has told Worcestershire’s three clinical commissioning groups, overseeing the hospital services review, more work needs to be done on the business case surrounding the changes before they will be able to put their proposal to the public.
In a statement a spokesperson for NHS England (Arden, Herefordshire and Worcestershire) said they had confirmed their support for the proposed clinical model but wanted further work done including additional information on patient choice and a clear proposal for implementation.
“We are working with our partners to make sure the quality of services is the main priority.”
It followed a meeting on August 6 where it had hoped the green light would be given to the process continuing to formal public consultation on plans to centralise maternity and inpatient paediatric services at the Alexandra Hospital into Worcester and to turn the A&E department into an emergency centre providing about 95 per cent of what it currently does.
A business case stretching to over 1,000 pages and more than 50 documents dating back over the last two years were submitted to NHS England for scrutiny but the failure to pass the check means consultation will not now begin in September.
A spokeswoman for the review said they were waiting for a letter from NHS England detailing what further work needed to be done and if they passed another assurance check in September, consultation would begin in October. She added they were still aiming for a final decision in January next year.
Neal Stote, chairman of the Save the Alex campaign, said they were still waiting for more details but added: “We believe the process is flawed and now it seems NHS England is not entirely convinced either. Hopefully commissioners will use this pause to look again. There is no point consulting on an option which does not deliver a long-term solution.”