SERVICES at Kidderminster Hospital are safe for now but health chiefs behind a new report into county care admit they do not know if their plans would save enough money.
The independent clinical review panel’s report into future Worcestershire acute hospital services, released on Tuesday, appears to be positive for Kidderminster and does not recommend any further downgrading of the site.
It says Worcestershire Acute Hospitals NHS Trust should continue to run services at Kidderminster, Worcestershire Royal Hospital, Worcester and Alexandra Hospital, Redditch and rejects a second option, which would have seen another trust manage the Alexandra.
The preferred choice, however, has not been costed despite the exercise being set up nearly two years ago, as the joint services review, to save NHS Worcestershire £50 million and plug a future funding gap. Doctors insisted the latest review looked solely at clinical issues and not finances.
As a result, there are concerns Kidderminster could be in the firing line if more money needs to be slashed when costs are considered.
Independent Community and Health Concern president Dr Richard Taylor said the report was “less severe” than many expected but added: “The concern is we do not yet know if this is going to save enough money.”
Following a press briefing on Tuesday Wyre Forest Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG) chairman Dr Simon Rumley, however, told The Shuttle the report was “positive” for Kidderminster.
He said: “Kidderminster will be at least as active and there is potential for increasing utilisation. There will be more acute admissions in Worcester and in order to make room for the new emergency admissions, as a CCG, we would be happy to work with the acute trust to utilise Kidderminster for more elective work.”
Stephen Brown, spokesman for campaign group Kidderminster Hospital Alliance, said: “While we cautiously welcome the fact Kidderminster appears safe, the finances require much more detail and scrutiny if the option is to be proved sustainable and not in any way detrimental.”
The report urges the CCG and Worcestershire County Council to review public transport between north Worcestershire and the Worcester site.
It does not support closing the Alexandra’s A&E department, recommending the creation of an “emergency centre”, which would receive ambulances and include an urgent care centre and minor injuries unit and run in tandem with a new “major emergency centre” in Worcester.
It is proposed consultant-led maternity services and paediatric inpatients be centralised at the Worcestershire Royal.
The review was originally planned to last a year and tabled six options, including two which threatened Kidderminster Hospital with closure.
A public consultation on the new favoured option could be held in the autumn.