A REDDITCH dad and Borough Councillor has spoken out in defence of the local health trust following claims its A&E departments were forced to ‘shut their doors’ to ambulances over Monday night and into Tuesday morning.
The claims were raised by the BBC’s health correspondent Michele Paduano who quoted a ‘source’ saying a major emergency was raised at Worcestershire Royal Hospital and patients were being transferred to Heartlands Hospital.
However Councillor Mike Rouse slammed the allegations as ‘alarmist’ and said they had the potential to endanger lives if taken literally.
“I’m all for scrutiny and I’m acutely aware of the Trust having to be held to account but there is a fine line between reporting and causing anxiety and alarm,” he said.
“If people see those claims they may make the wrong decision about where they should go for treatment, when really they should go to the nearest hospital then it will be up to the clinical staff to decide where they will be best treated.”
He said that before Christmas his youngest daughter had fallen ill.
“I myself was unsure if we should get into the car and drive to Worcester or go to the Alex as the local hospital,” he said.
“In the end commonsense prevailed and we went to the nearest hospital, the Alex, and let the clinicians decide.”
Mr Paduano later retracted the claim that a major emergency had been called.
A spokesperson for Worcestershire Acute Hospitals NHS said: “At times when the hospitals are under pressure, we can ask neighbouring Trusts and West Midlands Ambulance Service (WMAS) to support us by taking patients to other hospitals where that is safe and appropriate, to help ease the pressure and reduce the risk of long handovers.
“With the assistance of WMAS and Heartlands Hospital, we agreed a brief (two hours) partial divert – maximum two patients per hour – overnight and WMAS crews also used their judgement to assess other patients who could be taken to other hospitals.
“We are grateful for their support and the support from the other hospitals at a time when we know they are also very busy.
“We are also working with other health and care organisations to use all available capacity across the county and elsewhere, for example the 20 beds which recently opened for our use at South Warwickshire NHS Foundation Trust.”
The spokesperson added that both the Royal and the Alex remained extremely busy today, Tuesday, and this was continuing to cause issues with ambulance handovers.
The spokesperson added: “We would strongly encourage local people to help us during this very busy time by using the wide range of alternatives to A&E which are available locally if they can.”
Options include contacting your GP, pharmacy, Minor Injury Units and the NHS111 service. More details on all of these are available at www.worcestershire.nhs.uk/winter/