By Tristan Harris Thursday 13 September 2012 Updated: 13/09 17:15
MORE than 100 residents turned out to the Save the Alex public meeting at Bromsgrove’s Methodist Centre last Friday (September 7).
The event gave people the chance to have their say on the future of healthcare in light of the proposals which could see A&E and maternity services removed from the Alexandra Hospital.
That would mean patients needing those services would have to go to the Worcester Royal.
At the meeting, there was a panel made up of Neal Stote, the leader of the Save the Alex campaign, Eamonn Kelly, the chief executive of NHS Worcestershire, Bromsgrove MP Sajid Javid, the leader of the district council, Coun Roger Hollingworth and the authority’s Labour leader Coun Peter McDonald.
Speeches were made by each of the panelists, who gave their views on the campaign and the future of healthcare.
Mr Kelly outlined the six options and spoke up for the need of hospital services to change to maximise staffing levels and resources. There were also current clinicians there to answer questions and Penny Venables, the chief executive of the Acute Hospitals Trust.
Mr Stote spoke about the campaign and the need for A&E and maternity services at the Alex.
He pointed out that at the moment, in busy times, patients were being diverted from the Worcester Royal to the Alex.
“If the A&E is taken away, where will they be diverted to? Birmingham? Hereford? Cheltenham? Gloucester?” He asked the crowd.
“They haven’t even looked into how the hospitals would cope,” he added.
Criticism also came in for the PFI scheme used to pay for the Worcester Royal, labelling it a drain on NHS resources.
Mr Javid, in his speech, said he accepted reviews should be carried out to ensure the health service was value for money, but, he said, if a proper review had been carried out at the time of signing the PFI contract, the area may not have been facing the situation it was now.
And he urged people to write to him with their experiences of A&E and maternity at the Alex, detailing what the consequences would have been if those services were not available.
Among the points made by Coun Hollingworth were that before any cuts were made, every single spending avenue should be looked at.
He also criticised the service for having as many administrators as nurses and the lack of parking at the Worcester Royal.
On A&E he said: “We have been told that if all specialists are in one place, then you can get better treatment, but that is only if you can get there before you die.
“You only have one chance with life and death situations,” he added.
Reflecting on the meeing, Mr Kelly thanked Neal Stote for arranging it and said: “We want to share with local people our assessment of the challenges facing the local NHS and to hear their views.
“It is clear that we have yet to convince people of the authenticity of some of those challenges and therefore the legitimacy of some of the changes to services which our clinicians in particular are clear that we have to make.
“We are listening and we will continue to engage with local people and in particular the Save The Alex campaign.”
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