FRUSTRATED council leaders have once again joined forces to urge the Secretary of State to step in and intervene in the "on-going saga" that is the long-running hospitals revamp.
In a letter to MP Jeremy Hunt they point out that it is now more than 12 months since they last wrote to him and the review is no further forward.
Signed by Redditch Council leader Bill Hartnett, Bromsgrove District Council leader Margaret Sherry and Stratford District Council leader Chris Saint, it comes after NHS England said more work needs to be done before a public consultation into the Future of Acute Hospital Services in Worcestershire project can be launched.
Examining the business case for the project which was submitted last month, NHS England said more work needs to be done before the consultation can be launched.
Although the organisation has said it supports the current proposal, which would see services centralised at the Worcester Royal hospital, it is unlikely the public consultation will be completed by the end of the year, having a knock-on effect on the project as a whole.
It was also revealed that alternative provider University Hospitals Birmingham (UHB) was not able to develop its option for the running of the Alex Hospital.
Freedom of Information requests show no information was shared between UHB and Worcestershire Acute Hospitals Trust regarding the review process between the launch of the hospitals review in January 2012 and June this year.
When the council leaders first wrote to theMP they urged him to step in and ensure that the future of health services in Worcestershire was based on people’s needs and that alternative provider UHB was allowed to bid.
They are now writing to ask for a repeat of the clinical review of the options, and that UHB is allowed to bid.
In a joint statement to Mr Hunt the council leaders said: "We have also been told by Redditch and Bromsgrove CCG that the option identified by the clinical review panel, which did not include UHB being allowed to bid, will cost the CCG £1m more.
"We would like to know where this money is going to come from.
"Presumably, this will come from the overall CCG budget which will mean there is less money available for important preventative issues which will ultimately help save costs in acute services in the future.
"It therefore begs the question as to whether UHB could have provided the same services, or indeed better services, for the same money without putting the rest of the Worcestershire health economy at risk."
The joint statement added: "When the review started it was supposed to offer a long term solution for healthcare in Worcestershire - the current proposal will only last for three years at best and see a further reduction of services on offer to the people we serve.
"We therefore urge you without further delay to order a repeat of the clinical review allowing UHB to bid."