28th Apr, 2017

Hunt’s Redditch visit branded ‘too little, too late’

Ross Crawford 16th Feb, 2017

STAFF morale, the future of the Alex and the junior doctors’ strike were among the topics discussed when Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt visited the Alexandra Hospital on Tuesday.

The MP had been visiting Heartlands Hospital in Birmingham before heading south to Redditch.

The Health Secretary had been expected to spend just over and hour at the hospital but went over the two hour mark as he chatted to nurses, porters, pharmacists and ancilliary staff as well as meeting senior managers.

“He said the reason he was here was to see first-hand the challenges facing the hospital and to chat to staff,” said a spokesperson for Worcestershire Acute Hospitals NHS Trust (WAHT).

His tour took him around the operating theatres, the ambulatory care unit and Accident and Emergency as well as to an open meeting with staff.

The Woodrow Drive hospital has maintained a high profile at a national level thanks to the campaigning and lobbying of local politicians and the Save the Alex group.

It’s former chairman Neal Stote said: “His visit has come two years too late. We raised all the concerns about waiting times and targets when together with the leaders of Bromsgrove, Stratford and Redditch councils and Karen Lumley we went down to see him.

“At the time he told us there was nothing he could do then we find him standing up in the House of Commons and saying Worcestershire Royal was the number one issue he was concerned about – and now we have this visit but I’m afraid it’s too little too late.

“It you are coming to announce something, or do something that is positive then do so, otherwise, he is just a distraction.”

Over the Christmas period Worcestershire Royal figured in the national news when two patients died on trolleys in the hospital and a third committed suicide.

The Care Quality Commission, which has put the trust in special measures, then followed this up by issuing it with a tough Section 29A warning to either improve by March 10 or risk being taken over by another, better performing trust.

The trust is also facing a £35million deficit this financial year and its interim chief executive Rob Cooper, standing in for the yet to arrive Michelle McKay, himself resigned to go to another job in the north of England.