THE GOVERNMENT is actively discussing the situation at the Alexandra Hospital amid claims further resignations could be on the way.
Save the Alex and Redditch Borough Council leader Bill Hartnett have called for urgent action by ministers following the news the entire consultant team from the Alexandra Hospital’s A&E department had quit. A further consultant working in A&E at the Worcestershire Royal Hospital has also resigned.
All five have secured jobs at Warwick Hospital and although no official reason has been given for their decision, it is understood the relationship with senior management had completely broken down.
A source told the Standard: “They couldn’t abide to work with them anymore.
“One of them was Mr Redditch A&E through and through but he felt he had no choice.”
And according to the source at least another resignation within the emergency department at Worcester is likely within the near future.
One flashpoint is known to be the creation of an emergency centre at the Alex, proposed as part of the reconfiguration proposals.
A letter released last September by GPs in Redditch and Bromsgrove revealed ‘hospital colleagues’ had raised issues around clinical safety, staffing and training recognition which represented a major risk to the clinical sustainability of the plan and had not been addressed.
As the Standard revealed on its website last Friday (February 13) it leaves the future of the Alex’s A&E department shrouded in doubt. The departing consultants will have to serve between three to six months notice but if the Trust cannot find replacements or staff the department safely with locums then it may result in the emergency closure of the service.
It is unclear exactly how that would work though given an independent panel has already ruled the Worcestershire Royal could not cope with an additional 6,000 ambulances turning up on its doorstep and University Hospitals Birmingham (UHB) has previously expressed concern about uncertainty around the Alex putting pressure on the emergency department at the Queen Elizabeth Hospital.
Redditch MP Karen Lumley said ministers were aware of the situation.
“I’m assured it has already been discussed at government level this morning,” she said.
“I’m really concerned there’s more to this than meets the eye.
“We know from the independent review there has got to be two A&Es in the county so there was no reason for them to leave for job security because that was there, so the people of Redditch need answers from the Trust as to why they have felt they have had to do this and I don’t blame any of them at all.”
Neal Stote, chairman of the Save the Alex campaign, added: “The Trust is failing financially, it’s failing its staff and it’s time for a Trust with a proven track record to take over and we believe that Trust is University Hospitals Birmingham.
“The Government needs to step in and make that happen and fast.”
Rebecca Blake, Labour’s Parliamentary candidate for Redditch, has written to health bosses calling for an independent investigation into the reasons behind the resignations and wider allegations of bullying. She has also questioned the sustainability of the Trust.
“Redditch and the surrounding areas need a safe, sustainable A&E that can serve the needs of local people and this devastating news puts the Alex in jeopardy.”
A spokeswoman for the Trust said: “We are agreeing the leaving dates with all of the consultants concerned and their new employer with a view to flexibility around start dates, none of which will be before May. Services for patients at the Alexandra Hospital A&E department are therefore being provided as normal.
“We are working with partners locally and across the region on a solution to maintain A&E services at the Alex in the future. We are pleased to have already received offers of support from other Trusts.”
She added: “The ongoing delays in moving forward [with the acute services review] have been a source of frustration for all parties and there was a recognised risk that staff could leave for other posts in the event of continued uncertainty. Our focus now is on the recruitment plan to replace them.”