SENIOR clinicians have disputed the reasons given by the four A&E consultants for quiting the Alexandra Hospital and accused them of being unprofessional.
In a joint statement, medical division directors Dr Julian Berlet, Dr Christopher Catchpole, Dr Graham James, Dr Anthony Scriven and Dr Andrew Short said the A&E consultants had failed to acknowledge the serious challenges the NHS faced around emergency services which had driven the need for the reconfiguration project three years ago.
“The challenges locally – as in many other parts of the country – are caused by shortages of skilled medical staff as well as pressure on public sector funding,” the statement said. “The consequences are felt most acutely in smaller hospitals that struggle to attract staff and maintain modern treatments for life-threatening conditions.
“Unfortunately, recruitment efforts for years have failed to improve the shortfall of medical staff at the Alexandra Hospital, and this is predicted to cause potential risks for patients in the future.
“This means that some clinical departments need to be reorganised. Such decisions are never taken lightly. However, the need for these decisions is usually obvious when patient safety and quality of medical care are paramount. Change, even when essential for patient care, can be difficult and inconvenient for staff; but facts need to be faced and will not be altered if we fail to confront them.”
The statement added the group had also failed to recognise the model being proposed had followed input by commissioners, the Worcestershire Acute Hospitals NHS Trust and the independent clinical review panel, while the idea of a networked A&E at the Alex linked to the Worcestershire Royal was based upon the national review by Sir Bruce Keogh.
The medical divisional directors added they recognised the consultants were unhappy with the intended changes and were entitled to express their view. But they said they were wrong to suggest their opinions were shared by all clinicians working for Worcestershire Acute Hospitals NHS Trust.
“The proposed model reflects what patients have said, through their CCGs, they want and the Trust has been working with its CCG partners on developing this.”
The directors added the consultants had taken part in the review by West Midlands Clinical Senate but had chosen to resign and voice criticisms before the result of the review had been announced. A number of accusations contained in their resignation letter were based on inaccurate or ‘out of context perceptions of events’, they said.
“Also in their letter, the four consultants have voiced criticisms of their colleagues in a manner which we would respectfully suggest is neither professional, or appropriate.
“In our experience those who work in the NHS in Worcestershire are deeply committed and highly motivated to shape and provide the best possible services to patients in often challenging circumstances.
“It is not unusual for there to be differences of professional opinion regarding how best to develop and improve those services. However, it is unfair to clinicians and non-clinicians alike to have their motives and their commitment to the NHS questioned simply because there is a difference of view.
“It would be better if the consultants had stayed to work with the Trust to support the development of emergency services for the whole county.”