EMERGENCY children’s surgery has been transferred from the Alexandra Hospital to Worcester amid concerns about the safety of the service.
Health chiefs say the decision, which was implemented last weekend, is a temporary measure and follows increasing concern about the sustainability of emergency children’s surgery at the Woodrow Drive site due to the number of temporary surgical doctors being used to staff rotas.
It is estimated the change will affect about four children a week, although only one or two of those are likely to require surgery. The decision has been backed by members of Redditch and Bromsgrove Clinical Commissioning Group, which buys in health services for the two towns.
The change does not affect children under five who are already transferred to Birmingham Children’s Hospital in the event they require surgery.
No timescale has been given for when emergency paediatric surgery will return to the Alex and given it is one of the services set to be centralised as part of the reconfiguration of the county’s hospitals, there is some doubt as to whether or not it will be restored.
But a spokeswoman for Worcestershire Acute Hospitals NHS Trust and commissioners insisted the move was temporary and would be reversed if staffing levels improved.
She added all other services for children at the Alex would not be affected and parents should continue to take children – including those with stomach pain – there where doctors would assess their condition and arrange for them to be transferred if it was decided emergency surgery was required.
A sub-committee of the reconfiguration programme has been established to monitor services until the hospitals review is completed and they have set the ‘tipping points’ at which safety or sustainability is compromised, which the spokeswoman said had been reached in this case.
“We would stress only a small number of children are affected and people should still take their children to the Alex.”