RESIDENTS across South Worcestershire face having to travel miles across the county to Redditch for routine operations in future.
The scenario is the likely outcome if centralisation of accident and emergency, children’s and maternity services at the Worcestershire Royal Hospital – known as option one – is approved as part of the ongoing countywide review of hospital services.
Doctors from South Worcestershire Clinical Commissioning Group say the move will be necessary to create capacity at the Worcestershire Royal site and will see more elective and planned surgery taking place at the Alexandra Hospital in Redditch or Kidderminster Treatment Centre, but no specific details have been given at this stage as to which services will be affected.
Residents in Redditch and Bromsgrove have been particularly vocal about the difficulties they will face travelling to Worcester for care or visiting relatives if A&E and maternity at the Alex is lost due to poor transport links and the latest news is likely to spark a similar response in the south of the county.
Malvern’s MP Harriett Baldwin said she had encouraged commissioners to increase the amount of procedures carried out at community hospitals to take the pressure off the transport network.
“I think we all expect we will need to travel to get the best specialist care so I feel it is important we don’t have to travel long distances to access routine procedures.”
The news was revealed in South Worcestershire CCG’s draft prospectus. This sets out what hospital services doctors would like to see provided in the county over the next five years. It included a midwife-led unit and urgent care centre alongside full A&E and maternity provision at the Worcestershire Royal.
It also says they will not support the Alexandra Hospital to be taken over by another provider – known as option two – if it has a detrimental impact on services provided at the Worcestershire Royal and the county’s health economy overall.
Dr Carl Ellson, chief clinical officer for South Worcestershire CCG, said the proposals had not been worked up in enough detail to allow them to talk about services which would have to be moved.
“Clearly, when specific proposals are finalised they would be subject to an extensive public consultation exercise to ensure the views of our local community are carefully considered before any changes are implemented.”
Both options are currently being analysed by an independent panel of experts which will report its recommendations in December, although an announcement is not expected until January.
The prospectus can be viewed in full at www.southworcsccg.nhs.uk. People can comment on it until Monday, November 18, by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org or NHS South Worcestershire CCG, John Comyn Drive, Perdiswell, Worcester, WR3 7NS.