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All three of Worcestershire’s acute hospitals will remain open with proposed changes to A&E, maternity and children’s services, health leaders have confirmed.
All three hospitals, in Kidderminster, Worcester and Redditch will remain open following a Joint Services Review (JSR). A scheduled meeting of the JSR steering group on Tuesday (26 February) heard that the Worcestershire’s Clinical Senate (comprising healthcare professionals from across the county) has given its backing to the proposal.
Local GP and chair of the Senate, Anthony Kelly, said “The JSR has come a long way. We have eliminated many options by both listening to local people and conducting a critical clinical analysis of what structure produces the best care and outcomes for the patients who we meet and treat every day. Keeping all three acute hospitals has been a strong message and we have acted on that .We also recognised from the outset that doing nothing was never an option. Across the country there is a shortage of experienced doctors in some key areas, particularly in A&E, women's and children's services. Without these changes healthcare across Worcestershire would suffer.”
NHS Worcestershire chief executive, Lesley Murphy, said “We are finalising options at this stage – not making a decision on who runs which hospital. The clinical and financial analysis we have conducted so far supports the proposed changes. We are committed to maximising the number of services available at each hospital site. Worcestershire Acute Hospitals Trust may continue to run all three sites. The second option, to work with alternative local NHS providers, requires more work and we are also seeking advice, including from the Department of Health, on NHS competition policy on how we do this.”
Under the proposals the vast majority of health care services would continue to be delivered locally. Some services would be centralised to improve patient treatments and outcomes.
The A&E service at the Alexandra Hospital would continue to provide local emergency care alongside a 24 hour minor injuries unit and a GP service on the site. This would mean some 75% of current urgent and emergency care cases would continue to be treated at the Redditch site. The A&E department at Worcester would be enhanced to deal with the county’s major emergencies. This would include a 24 hour, seven day a week, consultant led service with better links to specialist departments including those treating stroke and heart attack patients.
The patients who would be affected by changes to the Alexandra Hospital are the more serious emergency cases (e.g. stroke, major trauma and surgical emergencies). Most of these patients would be travelling by ambulance. Local health leaders are working closely with the West Midlands Ambulance Service to ensure the county has sufficient cover to meet the needs of these cases. Bringing these patients to an A&E with better, direct, access to a wider range of specialist treatments would improve patient outcomes.
Children’s services would benefit from Paediatric Assessment Units in Redditch and Worcester. This would mean that the majority of children’s emergency services would continue to be delivered at the Alexandra Hospital other than the very sickest children needing inpatient care which would be treated at the Worcestershire Royal Hospital or elsewhere. Children’s outpatient services would continue to be delivered across all three hospitals.
Lesley Murphy added, “We are grateful for the work done by local doctors and healthcare professionals in looking at all the options from a clinical perspective and giving a clear view. The JSR work is now concluding and over the coming weeks the county’s Clinical Commissioning Groups will take over the process to ensure the options are worked up with the expectation that there will be a second phase of engagement after the county council elections in May followed by a full three month consultation.”