MEDICAL experts have unanimously backed centralising A&E and other key NHS services at a Worcester hospital and closing them at Redditch.
Although no formal options have been drawn up and no decisions have yet been made in the joint services review (JSR), all clinicians want to see key health services based at Worcestershire Royal Hospital and not at the Alexandra Hospital in Redditch.
The minutes of a meeting of the clinical senate at Turnpike House at Newtown Road, Worcester, held in private on December 11 last year read: “After reviewing the JSR work so far the senate wished to make it clear at this juncture that there was unanimous clinical agreement that in-patient obstetrics, in-patient paediatrics and a full A&E would be concentrated at the Worcestershire Royal site to ensure continuing and enduring high quality service.
“In line with this recommendation there was acknowledgement that the Alexandra Hospital should not close and that as wide a range of services as possible should be provided on the Alexandra site.
“It was confirmed that the Redditch and Bromsgrove clinical commissioning group were in discussions with alternative providers with a view to enhancing service delivery at the Alexandra Hospital.”
JSR leaders had not released any statements to the public or press of the extent to which clinicians backed centralisation of services at Worcester although they did previously say the Alex was most likely to be affected by the changes.
Leaders also said they were committed to maximising the services delivered across all three sites, including Kidderminster Hospital, which lost its emergency department in 2000.
The JSR was launched a year ago this month with centralisation seen as one way of filling rotas and addressing the shortage of middle-grade doctors.
Centralisation was also seen by NHS leaders as ensuring better care for patients and making the county more attractive for recruiting NHS staff, including consultants.
The other reason for centralisation is the need to make £50 million savings from across acute hospitals over the next three years, the hospital trust share of £200 million of countywide NHS savings that must be made.
A JSR spokesman confirmed that the minutes were the first public confirmation of the view of the senate about the future of those three particular services.
He said: “The vast majority of A&E cases treated at the Alexandra Hospital would continue to be treated at that hospital after any changes that may be made.”
No date for any announcement about the options has yet been set.