CONCERNS for the future of Accident and Emergency at the Alex have deepened after the Trust released plans to redeploy night-time operating staff elsewhere in the hospital.
The trust insists they will still be available should an emergency happen but the use of skilled operating professionals elsewhere has rung alarm bells among staff and campaigners who fear this is a further step toward downgrading services at The Alex.
One insider told The Standard “the Trust is trying to push the night theatre staff out the back door without anyone knowing” which they said was a financial move by the board.
It’s also a symptom of of the Trust, Worcestershire Acute Hospitals NHS Trust, moving more of its acute cases to Worcester.
Neil Stote, chairman of Save the Alex, said: “How can they continue to call it an A & E if they cannot offer emergency surgery. All they are doing is confusing residents, confusing ambulance staff because people are not going to know where to go.
“This is all part of a plan to downgrade services at the Alex.
“They planned to cut at the corner with the paediatric wards and the maternity which they closed in November last and now they are trimming back the theatre staff.
“This is just a shambolic way to run the Trust.”
However a Trust spokesman said any changes were to better utilise the staff on shift when overnight surgery is not required.
He added that data showed the period between midnight and 8am was the quietest time for surgery at The Alex. There would be no redundancies or transfers to other hospitals and if necessary a surgical team would be available.
“There will be absolutely no change in the service patients receive. If a patient at the Alex requires overnight surgery they will still receive overnight surgery at The Alex,” he said.
“What we are doing is moving to a different sort of model but this is an internal issue that will deliver the same high quality care that people have come to expect.”
Dr Jonathan Wells, former chairman of Redditch and Bromsgrove Clinical Commissioning Group said: “This is an operational matter for the Trust although it is perhaps an indication that more and more is going to Worcester.
“However the important thing is that the facility remains and the Alex retains the ability to open up the theatres in an emergency.”
A report on the Trust’s model on the future of health care in its area is expected to be published by the West Midlands Clinical Senate by the end of this month.