Chairman would still axe any unsafe service

By Ian Dipple Saturday 30 November 2013 Updated: 04/12 14:28

THE CHAIRMAN of the Trust which runs the Alexandra Hospital says he stands by comments he would remove services if they are found to be unsafe.

Harry Turner was criticised for suggesting he would pull the plug on paediatrics, maternity or other services if safety is compromised, even if the ongoing review into the future of the county's hospitals had not been completed.

It followed the news the Royal College of Paediatrics and Child Health and the Royal College of Surgeons had been invited by the Trust to review the safety and sustainability of paediatrics, obstetrics and emergency surgery because of difficulties staffing rotas and the increasing reliance on locum doctors.

MPs and councillors for Redditch, Bromsgrove and Stratford along with members of the Save the Alex Campaign accused Worcestershire Acute Hospitals NHS Trust of effectively forcing reconfiguration through the back door.

But Mr Turner, who is due to meet with MPs, councillors and campaigners next week, insisted as a board they would not just sit back and wait for reconfiguration if that meant presiding over a disaster.

"There was a lot of criticism of the Trust and me about safety being more important and I stand by that," he told the Standard.

"It is important because we don't think the reconfiguration in whatever form is an excuse for complacency and we are not going to sit back and watch things deteriorate but we are still part of the reconfiguration and working hard to make that happen but it would be wrong of the board to wait for reconfiguration and take our eye off the ball, we have to scan the horizon.

"The accusation was it was reconfiguration by the back door, and it's not at all. The whole reason for starting the Joint Services Review was around this, and the fact it has taken two years means we are going to run into this as we always said we would. As a Trust we have been raising this since 2006 so it's not new news."

Chief executive Penny Venables added: "It's why they stopped A&E overnight at Mid-Staffordshire, it's why they are doing what they are at Cheltenham and they are doing that before any significant events but because they could see it coming."

It was also questioned why the reviews had been asked for just days after the Care Quality Commission had reported the Trust as providing some of the safest care in the country.

But Mrs Venables said the two could not be compared.

"The CQC rating is based on their own metrics but that's not in the level of detail we would expect to look at as a board or the public would expect us to look at."

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