REASSURANCES have been given about the future of vital health services in Worcester if one of the county’s main hospitals is handed over to a new provider.
The possibility of a new provider of services at Redditch’s Alexandra Hospital – likely to be a Birmingham-based trust – has set alarm bells ringing in Worcester.
Councillor Joy Squires, chairman of Worcester City Council’s overview and scrutiny committee, fears such a move could “financially scupper” Worcestershire Acute Hospitals Trust, which runs the Alexandra, Worcestershire Royal and Kidderminster hospitals.
And Droitwich MP Peter Luff said he was concerned the move could have “severe consequences”, with remaining county sites struggling to stand alone, putting important services in jeopardy.
But a top health boss has assured people they have nothing to fear if a new provider is brought in.
Dr Jonathan Wells, a GP and chairman of the Redditch and Bromsgrove Clinical Commissioning Group, said Worcestershire Royal would become a “fantastic specialist hospital” no matter what options are chosen by an ongoing cost-cutting review aimed at slashing £50 million from NHS spending in the county.
Handing over the Alex seems the less likely of two options for the future of Worcestershire hospitals, with a downgrade of emergency and certain women’s and children’s services in Redditch in pole position.
However, Dr Wells insisted the option would be fully developed and considered over the coming months, adding that analysis had shown the trust could achieve the necessary financial position in the next three years “with or without the Alex”.
The Save The Alex campaign group is championing a new provider taking over the hospital and is holding a public meeting at Redditch’s Palace Theatre on Monday.
Campaign chairman Neil Stote said: “It is good news that the Redditch and Bromsgrove Clinical Commission Group approached other providers about the future of services at the Alex with a view to them replicating what was currently provided.
“It is also encouraging that local commissioners feel alternative providers will be able to provide a wide range of service at the Alex.”
A spokesman for the joint services review – that developed the options for the hospitals’ futures – said both possibilities would be developed with the same level of clinical and financial scrutiny.