A PUBLIC consultation on the future of Worcestershire's hospitals - including Kidderminster's - could take place in the autumn.

Health bosses say the future of acute hospital services in Worcestershire programmes - the county hospital review formally known as the joint services review - is on track for public consultation this autumn, having bee given the thumbs up by NHS England.

The health service's strategic sense check gave the programme permission to progress to a formal NHS England assurance panel at the end of next month.

The three clinical sub-groups - women's and children's, emergency care and planned care - have completed their modelling work and produced specifications which are now subject to financial scrutiny to ensure they are affordable to the health community in Worcestershire.

Nigel Beasley, chairman of the independent clinical review panel, which is checking the programme is coming up with ideas which would work, together the the West Midlands Clinical Senate, will be asked to assure themselves the specifications meet the recommendations set out in the panel's report in January.

Worcestershire County Council will establish a joint overview and scrutiny committee in conjunction with neighbouring councils to scrutinise the programme and public consultation, which is due later this year. The programme is also due to report on progress at the county's overview and scrutiny committee in July 15.

Public consultation on the review is set to start in September and run for 12 weeks. The hospital review has, however, constantly missed dates set out in its timetable since its original launch in 2012.

Jo Newton, chairman of the programme's board, said: "A great deal of progress has been made in the last few months and we are preparing for public consultation in the autumn. Clinicians across the county have worked hard to produce robust clinical models, which give us a blueprint for the future of hospital care in Worcestershire for many years to come."

Despite originally being threatened with closure, proposals from those in charge of the review now appear to be good news for Kidderminster, as they do not recommend any further downgrading of the site and could even see the facility gain some services.

Health bosses, however, have previously admitted the plan has not yet been costed and could not say what would be in the firing line if more money needed to be saved when costs were considered, which is expected to be soon.