Worcestershire faces hospital closure choice

 Proposals to cut hospital services in Worcestershire mean communities are facing a choice of which district hospital to lose.

Worcestershire Acute NHS Trust (WAHT) has offered six alternative scenarios to cut £50m from the combined budgets of three hospitals.

Plans to focus A&E and maternity services in Worcester, closing down those hospital departments in Redditch and/or Kidderminster, are thought likely to become reality by 2015.

Worcestershire county councillor Fran Oborski branded the trust’s consultation exercise an “irresponsible” attempt to lead local authorities into conflict.

Dr Richard Taylor, formerly elected Independent MP for Wyre Forest as the representative of a campaign to save Kidderminster Hospital – said there was a danger that the county could “gang up” on Kidderminster.

The Alexandra Hospital in Redditch, which also serves Bromsgrove, Alvechurch and surrounding areas, is facing either partial or total closure.

A local campaign with cross-party town council support brought 150,000 people onto the streets to defend the town’s A&E and maternity services.

The A&E admission figure for Redditch is 34,856 people per 100,000, compared to the county average of 27,911.

Local people in emergencies would face a hour-long journey to Worcester Royal Hospital, campaigners said, with mortality from strokes and heart attacks being made far more likely.

“The whole council remains fully committed to supporting the Save the Alex campaign,” commented Councillor Bill Hartnett. “We must do all we can to protect the future of the Alex and to maintain the essential A&E and maternity services it provides to the whole community.”

WAHT plans to launch a three-month public consultation in November.