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Hospital consultation pushed back to summer 2013
HEALTH chiefs in Worcestershire have delayed a public consultation on its review of county hospital services for a third time - saying it is now likely to take place next summer .
A meeting of NHS Worcestershire’s joint services review (JSR) yesterday failed to reach an agreement on releasing further details about its plans because “some areas of detail” needed to be completed before they could make the move.
It means models of the future of acute hospital care released in June, two of which threaten Kidderminster Hospital with further downgrading or closure, are still on the table - although it is now widely believed the town will avoid service cuts.
A JSR statement said bosses had looked in detail at work done since a meeting in October to test the clinical and financial sustainability of options.
It said work had made good progress but added: “There remain some areas of detail to be completed before the JSR can move to the next phase of engagement with the detailed options for patients and the public to consider.”
Review staff say they now expect to hold a second phase of engagement in February with a three month public consultation to “start in summer 2013”.
That announcement will cause frustration among campaigners and members of the public as it is the third time the planned consultation has been pushed back - it was originally due to start in October this year.
NHS Worcestershire chief executive, Eamonn Kelly, however, said the extra time would help the authority “fully explore all of the options”.
“We are very conscious people in Worcestershire are looking to us to confirm the detail of the proposals for change and we want to do this as soon as possible,” he added.
“It is really important however to have fully explored all of the options than to be constrained by an artificial timetable.
“That said, we do aim to say much more in January 2013 about the detail of the options which we will take to the next stage of public engagement.”
The JSR statement said much of its focus was on the future of key services at Redditch’s Alexandra Hospital where the A&E department is under threat of closure.