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By Ian Dipple Wednesday 12 February 2014 Updated: 12/02 21:49
THERE will be no rapid removal of services at the Alexandra Hospital should changes be approved later this year.
David Williams, director of operations and delivery for NHS England in Worcestershire, moved to ease growing concerns about how the wider system will cope following the acceptance of the findings of the Independent Clinical Panel last month by the county's health organisations.
The recommendations will see the retention of over 98 per cent of A&E care in the form of an emergency centre at the Alex but the centralisation of inpatient paediatric and consultant-led maternity services into Worcester.
That has led to concerns from campaigners and politicians about whether or not the Worcestershire Royal, Birmingham Women's Hospital and West Midlands Ambulance service will cope with the extra demand.
Mr Williams told Worcestershire's Health and Well-Being board they were currently working through the detail of the findings to determine how it will affect patient movements.
Once completed he said they would then be able to talk to the ambulance service about any additional funding they may need for crews and vehicles and bus companies and community transport providers to ensure patients and their families could get between the different sites for the care they needed.
It is hoped some of that detail will be made public in early summer, which could also see formal public consultation moved forward from the Autumn.
But Mr Williams said the changes would take time to implement and would involve discussions with other providers outside of Worcestershire.
"There is quite a bit of detailed work that now needs to happen. Understanding the patient flow of exactly who may go to which hospital is really important in terms of making sure, and preparing for this, those sites have got the right capacity to be able to respond to those flows, we are supporting patients and their families to get to those locations and we don't change any of the services until we understand how that works through," he said.
"We wouldn't want people to suddenly come to one site and that site not being able to respond."
His comments were echoed by Patti Paine, divisional director of nursing and midwifery for Worcestershire Acute Hospitals NHS Trust, in a message sent to doctors in Redditch and Bromsgrove.
"I would like to pass on the message to my GP colleagues and to the women of Worcestershire that it is ‘business as usual’ at the Alexandra Hospital for maternity bookings," she said.
"I want to reassure women we are still providing a full obstetric service at the Alexandra Hospital. If after public consultation we reconfigure obstetric service onto the Worcestershire Royal Hospital site this will take years to plan and implement. Women will be kept informed about when this change will happen in advance."
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