THE chief executive of Worcestershire Acute Hospitals NHS Trust has flatly rejected claims from local MP Rachel Maclean that centralisation of hospital services in Worcester ‘wasn’t working for Redditch’.
The MP has called for the possibility of some maternity and paediatric services to be returned to the Alex to be looked into with ‘more options for the local population to use Birmingham services’.
On Wednesday she held an adjournment debate in the House of Commons on the Alexandra Hospital.
However Mr Hopkins, speaking exclusively to the Standard said diluting the maternity workforce by moving some to Redditch would weaken the service.
“Workforce nationally is one of the key issues the NHS is grappling with,” he said.
“By bringing the services on to one site we have been able to make sure all our middle ranking doctors rotas are fully staffed, which of course if you are splitting services across multiple sites it weakens the staffing overall.
“Essentially what Rachel is suggesting the service in Worcester would be weakened and if we were to reverse that workforce decision I cannot see how that would be good for the mums to be, the babies or the staff.”
He added: “The real issue is our ability to safely staff the maternity and delivery unit 24 hours a day, seven days a week.”
On the suggestion that Redditch should have the option of looking at what Birmingham can offer he said: “Through our clinical stretegy we want to strengthen all three of our hospital sites by making sure they all work properly and services are organised around the patient rather than other peoples’ agendas.
“I do feel sorry for the people of Redditch and the people of Worcestershire as a level of anxiety will have been created by this development, this suggestion of harbouring into Birmingham.
“I have had to respond to a number oif staff anxious about their jobs and their futures when we wasnt them to focus on the patient not on things they are picking up and that are not going to reach reality.”
He added that the overall aim was to put the patient first, focus on the basics, free staff up from NHS bureaucracy and bring stability to the trust’s finances, which last year were £72.5million in the red.
Work was being undertaken to improve staff morale and patient flow through the hospital.
Next month the trust would increase its bed capacity but he said the issue of beds extended beyond the four walls of the hospitals and it was important that all providers across Worcestershire played their part in helping patients on their road to recovery.