THE FATE of the Alexandra Hospital is set to be sealed by the end of this year.
Commissioners from across Worcestershire will meet on December 16 to review feedback from the public consultation, expected to start in September, and sign off service changes.
It will bring to an end a review which started in January 2012 and is expected to cost about £2.5million, although it will still require approval from the Government.
An independent clinical review panel ruled in January the Alex could keep about 95 per cent of its A&E service in the form of an emergency centre but overnight paediatrics and the consultant-led maternity unit (CLU) had to be centralised, but only once capacity was in place at either Worcester or Birmingham.
The finer details of the clinical models are still being worked up but as commissioners, including those in Redditch and Bromsgrove, have already approved them in principle the final outcome is unlikely to be significantly altered regardless of the public’s response to the consultation.
Writing on his blog Dr Jonathan Wells, chair of Redditch and Bromsgrove CCG, said if closure of the CLU was confirmed following public consultation it could not and would not happen until capacity was available elsewhere.
Simon Hairsnape, chief officer for Redditch and Bromsgrove CCG, said the review had made ‘very significant progress’ but they still had to pass a key check by NHS England at the end of July before they had permission to go out to consultation.
He said that included demonstrating they had examined issues around transport, finances, capacity and the impact on neighbouring hospitals.
“There’s lots of water to flow under quite a few bridges yet”, he told a Worcestershire Acute Hospitals NHS Trust (WAHT) board meeting on Wednesday (June 25).
“It’s a tough set of hurdles to jump over. We need to convince NHS England we have got our act together in Worcestershire and have got a model to take forward. Nevertheless we are confident we can do that.”
Harry Turner, chairman of WAHT, added: “We’re fully behind you on making this happen because we believe, actually, it’s the right thing for patients.”