FEARS been raised that the ‘temporary’ move of the Garden Suite chemotherapy unit at the Alexandra Hospital to Kidderminster could become permanent.
The alarm has been raised by Redditch Labour following comments by Paul Brennan, the deputy chief executive of Worcestershire Acute Hospitals NHS Trust.
The Garden Suite was moved to Kidderminster earlier this year due to the ongoing Covid pandemic.
Addressing the County Council’s health overview and scrutiny committee (HOSC) on March 10, Mr Brennan was explaining to members future plans for the trust, and the possibility of making temporary changes permanent.
He said: “I would cite the fact that we had to relocate the chemotherapy unit from the Alexandra Hospital to Kidderminster Hospital in order to continue that service.
“With the money that we got during the pandemic we have upgraded the site at Kidderminster with the chemotherapy unit moving there and it’s in a very good purpose designed facility and so it may well be that following discussions within the trust we may wish to discuss with HOSC in the summer the potential for making that change permanent.”
Phil Berry, Labour’s prospective candidate for Batchley and Brockhill and Redditch South said: “This will come as no surprise to the people of Redditch who witnessed the temporary move of maternity services and the children’s’ ward to Worcestershire Royal Hospital only to see them made permanent.
“Once again the Redditch community is being deprived of an essential local service in the name of centralisation.
“If this move becomes permanent it will mean additional stress for patients and increased travel time and costs.
“It’s time the trust came clean to the public as to the future of our hospital that only ever seems to see temporary removals of services becoming being permanent without any prior consultation with the community and the people most affected.”
Redditch MP Rachel Maclean has also made plain her opposition to any move of the Garden Suite becoming permanent.
Just last month in the Redditch Standard she said: “We’re all well aware of the Alex’s history and being told the past transfer of services was temporary. I share these concerns and anxiety.
“Having visited the Garden Suite myself, it really struck me how much it meant to patients that they could be treated locally for something so traumatic as chemotherapy. It is my hope it remains that way when the pandemic is over and cancer patients can be safely treated again at the Alex.
“My position on this temporary move is clear. Once it is safe to do so, the Garden Suite should be returned to the Alex.
“Through my Alex Working Group, I will continue to hold our Acute Trust to account as my constituents re-elected me to do.”
Mr Brennan also told HOSC members of plans to turn four wards at the Alex into ringfenced ‘purple wards’ to ‘massively increase’ the amount of elective surgery carried out in trust.
He added: “Let me make it clear there is absolutely no debate about the Emergency Department at the Alexandra Hospital. That will remain.
“It is a key feature for the local community and a key asset for the trust and we will be looking at ways of developing that having completed the major development (the new emergency ‘village’) on the Worcester site.”