CALLS have been made for the Health Secretary to order a repeat of the clinical review of the options for the future of the county’s hospital services.
Save the Alex Campaigners, backed by legal opinion, say University Hospitals Birmingham was never properly allowed to develop its option for the running of the Alexandra Hospital and as a result the process is flawed.
Towards the end of last year an Independent Clinical Review Panel was asked to examine Worcestershire Acute Hospital NHS Trust’s option as well as option 2 which would have seen another provider take on the Woodrow Drive site.
But the panel’s review was based only on the internal work-up and assessment of the two options by clinicians working within the Trust, some of whom had previously stated publicly option 2 would not work as it would destabilise services for the rest of Worcestershire.
That view was confirmed by the ICRP in January which ruled option 2 should not be progressed any further and the full A&E at the Alex should be turned into an emergency centre providing 95 per cent of what it currently does while maternity and inpatient paediatric services should be centralised into Worcester.
Freedom of Information requests have revealed no information was shared between UHB and WAHT regarding the review process between the launch of the hospitals review in January 2012 and June this year.
A letter calling for the new review has been sent to the MPs and council leaders for Redditch, Bromsgrove and Stratford as well as commissioners leading the process.
Peter Jewell, who penned the letter and who is also a member of the Redditch judiciary, warned if the process was allowed to continue on the current basis it might be susceptible to a judicial review.
Neal Stote, chairman of STA, added: “We are concerned the current option will just be a short-term fix of three to five years and about potential slippage in what was offered in January. The Birmingham option may not be any better but it will last longer and is likely to lead to increased investment in the Alex.”
The move comes as commissioners prepare to meet with NHS England next Wednesday (August 6) for a final assurance check. If they pass it then they will be given permission to start public consultation during the second week of September, with a final decision now expected in early January.
A spokeswoman for Redditch and Bromsgrove CCG said: “The independent clinical review panel led by Mr Nigel Beasley considered both options and took evidence from a wide range of clinicians. The panel concluded that option two, which would have seen another provider take over services at the Alexandra Hospital, was not sustainable for services as this would have resulted in a significant inequality in the provision of safe and sustainable services to the population of Worcestershire.
“The Panel recommends a modified version of Option One should be put to public consultation. The current proposals are due to be considered by NHS England next week and we expect them to go to public consultation in September.”