THE PUBLICATION of a key report which will determine the future of the Alexandra Hospital has been delayed leading to fears it will not be seen by the public before the General Election.
West Midlands Clinical Senate was due to issue its view on whether or not the proposals for the future configuration of services at the Alexandra Hospital, including the retention of A&E, was viable in February.
But commissioners have now announced it will not be published until the beginning of March but have not specified a date.
That has trigged concerns amongst Save the Alex campaigners as Parliament is due to be dissolved at the end of that month meaning any politically sensitive announcement cannot be made until after voters go to the polls on May 7.
Neal Stote, chairman of the Save the Alex campaign, said with the stability of some services, such as neonatal staffing and emergency surgery, under pressure, if the report was not published before the election they feared emergency closures would become a reality.
“The public have a right to know what the view of the clinical senate is about the future of their hospital and this report should be published at the earliest possible opportunity, election or no election,” he said.
“Politics should not be used as an excuse to make cuts via the back door.”
Health bosses had also pinned their hopes on going out to consultation shortly after the election at the end of May to allow a final decision to be made about September time, bringing an end to a review process which reaches its third year anniversary this month.
But that is now in doubt as the view of the WMCS is needed before NHS England will allow the plans to be put to the public.
There is no guarantee the WMCS will agree to the plan given safety concerns about the proposals previously raised by GPs in Redditch and Bromsgrove and emergency consultants at the Alex.
Simon Hairsnape, chief officer for Redditch and Bromsgrove CCG, said the programme board, overseeing the review process, was still signed up to the current timetable which would see public consultation take place as soon as possible after the election.
He added as the WMCS was an independent panel they were working to their own timetable which they were entitled to do and would report when they were ready.
Dr Jonathan Wells, chair of Redditch and Bromsgrove CCG, said he hoped the plan would be approved but if not then an earlier review chaired by Dr Nigel Beasley had made it clear the Alex had to retain its A&E with emergency consultants on site because other hospitals did not have the capacity to treat people elsewhere.
“The NHS knows we have got to deliver that and I’m hoping the modified option one model we have come up with will be found to be clinically safe, sustainable and high quality. If it isn’t then we will have to look again at the vision Nigel Beasley has stipulated.”