THE FUTURE of the A&E department at the Alexandra Hospital has been thrown into fresh doubt after the shock resignation of a number of consultants.
Staff were told the news on Friday afternoon that four emergency consultants were quitting their post at the Woodrow Drive hospital and another one at the Worcestershire Royal Hospital.
It is understood no reason was given for the decision during the meeting but they have all got alternative jobs to go to.
A spokeswoman for Worcestershire Acute Hospitals NHS Trust said: “We will be discussing the departure details with each consultant over the coming days including the notice period to be served.
“We would wish to stress that services will continue to be provided as normal and an urgent transition plan will be put in place in conjunction with the full range of stakeholders to ensure that patients can continue to receive safe and high quality urgent care going forward.”
The news is a hammerblow to hopes of retaining A&E services at the Alexandra Hospital site.
A shortage of emergency consultants nationally and difficulties recruiting was one of the reasons the proposed downgrading of the service was originally put forward by the Trust in June 2012 and would have involved the loss of 25 per cent of the department’s work.
But that option has been ruled out by an independent review conducted by Dr Nigel Beasley who said in January last year he did not believe the Worcestershire Royal would be able to cope with an additional 6,000 plus ambulances turning up on its doorstep and A&E consultants must remain at the Alex, albeit as part of an emergency centre providing about 95 per cent of what the current A&E does.
An independent review by West Midlands Clinical Senate of whether or not that model is viable is due to report this month. But if the Trust is unable to recruit new A&E consultants or find locums to replace them then it is unclear whether or not that plan can be implemented.
That could mean emergency closure of the service but how that would work is unclear given both hospitals have failed to cope in recent months due to pressure on both the county’s A&E departments.
Neal Stote, chairman of the Save the Alex Campaign, said: “This is devastating news. There are massive quesitons for the Trust to answer because the plan has been since January 2014 to retain two A&Es in the county so how has the Trust allowed five members of staff to leave on the same day? There’s obviously an underlying problem with the capability of the Trust to retain its staff.
“It’s obvious the staff are voting with their feet and choosing to work elsewhere and the Trust need to explain why.
“It’s time for a Trust with a proven track record to take over our hospital.”