THE future of health services at the Alexandra Hospital was the big topic when the battle to be Redditch’s next MP took to the hustings at Cookhill Village Hall.
Billed as a ‘rural hustings’ and designed to give residents of the constituency living in local rural communities a voice, it was the welfare of the Woodrow Drive health complex that dominated.
Conservative candidate Karen Lumley, fighting to be re-elected to the seat she won five years ago, acknowledged the hospital had endured a torrid three years but praised staff and said the future was now looking bright under a proposed re-configuration, which would see it lose some services but gain others.
However the other candidates, Rebecca Blake (Labour), Peter Jewell (Ukip), Kevin White (Green) and Seth Colton (Independent) all voiced their fears for the future of services at the hospital.
The changes, proposed by the Redditch & Bromsgrove Clinical Commissioning Group, would see some emergency A&E cases, overnight paediatric care and consultant-led maternity services going to Worcester Royal but with more orthopaedic and urology services coming to the Alex as well as a specialist childrens’ observation service.
Local resident Dev Gupta, a hospital consultant who used to work at the Alex, also raised the issue of transport to and from Worcester and the hospital working more closely with services at the Queen Elizabeth Hospital in Birmingham.
Concerns were also raised over the recruitment of doctors and the gap between the expectations placed on GPs by government and the reality of providing a service available to all.
Other questions dealt with the HS2 rail link which saw the Labour and Conservative candidate united in favour with the others opposed.
On the issue of overseas aid raised by the Reverend Canon Nick Wright, all the candidates believed the 0.7 per cent currently spent by the government should remain, bar Ukip, who would cut it to 0.2 per cent.
Residents also wanted to whether the gap between the haves and have nots had widened over the passed five years of the Coalition government and what the candidates would do to encourage greater on the arts.
Voices were raised on the issue of the badger cullwhich brought an empassioned plea from the Green candidate to stop the killing.
The evening was chaired by Ross Crawford, editor of the Redditch Standard and missed only Hilary Myers, the Liberal Dermocrat candidate for the constituency who was unable to attend due to illness.
Young farmer Becky Smith asks the candidates about the badger cull.