A TOP doctor has called for the Alex to retain a full range of services including A&E, obstetrics and gynaecology and trauma and orthopaedics on site in Redditch.
Dr Santi Vathenen, who resigned from the health trust last month, had worked as a consultant physician at the Alexandra Hospital for nearly 22 years, including spells as clinical director and divisional medical director.
Speaking of his ‘sadness, hope and relief’ in a farewell letter to colleagues he urged Worcestershire Acute Hospitals NHS Trust (WAHT) to halt its policy of centralisation at Worcester and outlining instead a blueprint that would retain full services at the Alex, relieve pressure on Worcestershire Royal Hospital, lead to greater retention of staff – and save money.
Under Dr Vathenen’s plan a fully functioning Alex would attract staff, improve moral and raise efficiency giving the trust the opportunity to earn more money through performing operations that are being lost to the private sector and other trusts.
His resignation is the latest in a line of top doctors who have left the Alex after WAHT announced plans to reduce services there which has already seen emergency gynaecology cases transferred to Worcester, albeit on a six month ‘temporary’ basis.
Critics saythe decision has plunged the trust into a spiral of decline as without a full range of cases doctors and nurses have been reluctant to work at the Alex as it won’t improve their training. This in turn has forced the trust to spend more money on temporary staff – currently about £2.5 million a month – impacting on its ability to provide other services.
Neal Stote, chairman of the Save the Alex campaign, hailed Dr Vathenen’s intervention and called on the trust to heed his words.
“What we have here is a leading consultant’s opinion that offers a clear way forward without cutting services and without going down the road we are currently on and which we know simply isn’t going to work.
“They seem hell bent on saving WAHT at any cost rather than providing for the health care of the people of this area.”
A spokesperson for the trust said: “We wish Santi Vathenen well. Individuals are entitled to their own opinion and Santi has been vocal about the changes to acute services in Worcestershire. He has been listened to and his views have been considered but he does not represent the majority of consultants working across the Trust, GPs or other clinicians.
“The NHS in Worcestershire has a clinical model which is going through a final review before it is submitted to the West Midlands Clinical Senate and NHS England for assurance. All NHS partners in the county believe this model is the best way to provide clinically safe and sustainable services going forward.”