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More delays to county hospital review
3:00pm Thursday 19th September 2013 in Local
A MUCH-delayed public consultation on the future of county hospitals is now extremely unlikely to happen this year, health bosses have admitted.
The future of acute hospitals, including the downgrading of Redditch’s Alexandra Hospital - the general hospital serving Bromsgrove - has been up in the air for almost 18 months ahead of a proposed service reconfiguration aiming to save £50 million.
Several options were initially on the table but these were whittled down to two options earlier this year.
One would see Worcestershire Acute Hospitals NHS Trust (WAHT) continuing to run services at Redditch as well as Worcester and Kidderminster, but with more centralisation at Worcester.
The second option, favoured by MPs and campaigners, would see an alternative provider, possibly University Hospitals Birmingham (UHB), brought in to run services at the Alex.
It had been anticipated that more detailed proposals would be put to the public this autumn.
However, Lesley Murphy, director for NHS England in Worcestershire, told a meeting of Worcestershire’s health and wellbeing board that was now unlikely to happen this year.
She said the two options would both undergo independent clinical and financial reviews and that this process was likely to take about three months – essentially ruling out any prospect of the public having their say before the end of the year.
Health and wellbeing board chairman Marcus Hart said: “In terms of the two options that came out in the spring, we want to know when there will be something that is tangible to go out to the public of Worcestershire.
“The reality then is that it will not be until January next year.”
Peter Pinfield, chairman of official health watchdog Healthwatch Worcestershire, said he believed the public should have been kept much better informed.
“From a public point of view we have got to get this right,” he said.
“But I would not be doing my duty if I did not say that there is a real sense of frustration out there.”
Neal Stote, from the Save the Alex Campaign, said: "The group is pleased these two options are being independently assessed as WAHT has already stated they want to continue to run all three sites as per option one.
“This independent assessment work will not result in a final decision being made and indeed may result in further options that have yet to be even considered.”
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