THE HEALTH Secretary has refused to intervene to solve the crisis threatening the future of the Alexandra Hospital’s A&E department.
Jeremy Hunt and David Flory, head of the Trust Development Authority, met with Save the Alex campaigners, the leaders of Redditch, Bromsgrove and Stratford councils and the MPs from the three towns in Westminster on Monday (February 23).
During the meeting, which lasted just over half an hour, campaigners expressed their concerns over the clinical and financial stability of Worcestershire Acute Hospitals NHS Trust following the resignation of five A&E consultants – including all four from the Alex – two weeks ago.
Mr Flory admitted the Trust was facing significant challenges and performance needed to be improved, but further action will not be taken until the outcome of a review into the proposed reconfiguration of the county’s hospital services, due to be reported back to health bosses today (Friday).
He did provide assurance measures were being taken to ensure the Alex’s A&E department is sustained following the resignations.
They include the potential to borrow staff from other Trusts and the use of locums.
An investigation into allegations of bullying within the Trust will also take place (see separate story).
But Mr Hunt declined to intervene directly saying it was up to the TDA and NHS England along with local commissioners.
Neal Stote, chairman of Save The Alex, said it was clear Mr Hunt or those in power within the NHS had no intention of taking the action necessary to resolve the situation.
“Given some of the evidence we were able to present around the Trust’s finances and quality indicators it’s clear it’s not just starting to creak it’s starting to crack, and they are not willing to take action on that and instead they continue to take the line they will work locally with NHS England. Well that’s been
ongoing for three years and is clearly failing, more action is required and required urgently.”
Redditch Borough Council leader Bill Hartnett added: “Mr Flory told us it was business as usual but I made clear business as usual was not good enough, we need change now.”
But Redditch MP Karen Lumley insisted there had been many positives from the meeting.
“When David Flory has seen the clinical senate review I expect him to act quickly on what is found. I will be in contact with both him and the Secretary of State over the coming days to seek further assurances our hospital is sustainable, we get the best outcome for staff and patients at the Alex, and ultimately the best outcome for Redditch.”
Trust bosses have also announced a series of actions in response to the situation including working with other Trusts to sustain services in the short-term and looking at substantially enlarging the A&E department at Worcester.