Hospital safety claims scotched but big questions persist

CAMPAIGNERS have welcomed confirmation that services at Redditch's Alexandra Hospital are not unsafe for patients, but continue to be alarmed over the future of health services in the area.

A special meeting was held earlier this week following reports that chairman of Worcestershire Acute Hospitals Trust (WAHT) Harry Turner said that the plug could be pulled on services that were unsafe.

At the meeting, held at the Alex Hospital, health chiefs answered questions from the leaders of Bromsgrove District, Redditch Borough and Stratford District councils, MP Karen Lumley and chairman of the Save the Alex Campaign Neal Stote.

Representatives from the trust confirmed that services are indeed safe for patients.
Following the meeting council leaders Roger Hollingworth, Bill Hartnett and Chris Saint from Stratford, along with Mrs Lumley and Mr Stote welcomed the news.

In a joint statement they said: “First and foremost we were pleased to be assured that the services at the Alex are currently safe and we would like to thank WAHT, and representatives from the local clinical commissioning group, for taking the time to allay these concerns.

“We have expressed our concerns over the way this had been communicated and the scaremongering headlines attributed to the chairman of WAHT around ‘pulling the plug’ on services.

"We were pleased to hear from the commissioning group that this is an absolutely last resort."

A 12-week review process aiming to agree a way forward for county hospitals is coming to an end.

An independent clinical review panel, along with several sub-committees representing groups including patients and local medics, have been considering the viability of two options that remain on the table.

These are for Worcestershire Acute Hospitals NHS Trust to continue running Worcestershire Royal, Kidderminster Hospital and the Alex, or for another trust, likely to be a Birmingham-based trust, to take over in Redditch.

By the end of the 12-week process, Next Wednesday, December 18, the independent panel and sub-committees will report to a newly-formed programme board, which will need to make a recommendation on how to proceed.

A decision on whether to accept the recommendation will then fall on Worcestershire’s clinical commissioning groups and the acute trust.

The joint statement added: "We all continue to be extremely concerned over the future of services at the Alex.

"We asked a number of questions of the trust, and while some were answered, we are awaiting a detailed response.

“The underlying message from WAHT is still that they will only consider moving services away from people in this area, the so-called option one, and that they will not let the other option that could see other providers run these services see the light of day.

“We continue to ask them to do the right thing, as they promised to do almost two years ago, and put both options out for proper consultation."

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