PLANS to reshape the future of hospital services in Worcestershire have received a mixed response by health experts.
The recommendations of a review into the services were presented earlier this week, recommending that Redditch’s Alexandra Hospital should continue to treat all but the most serious injuries as well as the centralisation of consultant-led midwifery services at Worcestershire Royal Hospital.
The plans, which are part of an effort to save £50 million from the county’s NHS budget, also recommended the most serious paediatric cases should be treated at Worcestershire Royal and are currently being reviewed by the three Clinical Commissioning Groups in Worcestershire.
At a meeting of Worcestershire County Council’s Health Overview and Scrutiny Committee on Wednesday, January 22, medical director with NHS England for Arden, Herefordshire and Worcestershire Martin Lee said the main concern raised around the plans was the possibility that patients in the north of the county could receive a lower quality service as a result of the changes.
Committee member Cllr Graham Vickery – who is ward member for Redditch North with the county council – said he was especially concerned about this given the thousands of new homes which were expected to be built in both Redditch and Bromsgrove over the next few years.
But Mr Lee said this would be taken into consideration before any final decision was made.
“We are explicitly aware of the need to address that problem in the Redditch area,” he said.
He added he hoped the new arrangements would improve healthcare across the whole of the county.
“The aim is to get from services which are good or satisfactory to at least good or hopefully excellent,” he said.
After concerns were raised that the plans would be out of date before they were even implemented, chief medical officer with Worcestershire Acute Hospitals NHS Trust Mark Wake said the independent panel developing the recommendations had considered at least 10 years in the future.
Chief executive of West Midlands Ambulance Service NHS Trust Anthony Marsh said he was “broadly supportive” of the plans.
“I think there’s a great opportunity to do something different and better for patients,” he said.
“This will benefit patients and that some times that will mean taking patients further afield – we’ve already been doing that with trauma cases.
“No longer are we taking patients with multiple trauma to the nearest hospital. If for example we have a serious accident in Hereford this afternoon we will take you either by road or ambulance and bypass several hospitals.
“Not taking patients to the nearest hospital is the right thing to do.”
A public consultation on the plans is expected to be launched in the autumn.