By Ian Dipple 28/06 Updated: 29/06 15:01
THE WOMAN leading the overhaul of hospital services across the county insisted they were listening to the public's concerns but warned the challenge they faced was 'unprecedented'.
Christine Fearns, Joint Services Review project director, admitted they had 'excited' the public by revealing early discussions about how hospital services could be organised in the future but added they were only in the third stage of an eight phase process and there would be plenty of opportunities for people to have their say.
She added they had learnt lessons from previous attempts at reorganisation over the last ten years and were committed to being transparent with the public at every stage of the process.
But she warned they could not escape the fact they were trying to deal with the challenge of a rising elderly population, with more chronic health problems and the rising cost of new drugs and technologies within an outdated system and without any increase in funding.
"We have got to provide better healthcare, to more people, with the same amount of money. The scale of the challenge is unprecedented," she said.
"We won't meet this challenge by making piecemeal changes around the edge. We have to accept we have a significant challenge and we have to make sense of it.
"Although the focus is on 2015 we are not sure how many years we will be operating as an NHS without any real terms growth."
But Mrs Fearns added while cost was a factor they had deliberately not carried out any financial analysis at this stage so clinicians could focus on what really mattered
which was delivering high quality care for patients.
Dr Charles Ashton, medical director for Worcestershire Acute Hospitals NHS Trust which is one of three organisations involved in the review, added: "The clinicians
involved in this process have a simple question, what would we want for ourselves and our families? If it's not good enough for ourselves and our families how can we possibly recommend it to the people of Worcestershire.
"Medicine has got a lot more complicated. Do you want a cardiologist looking after you when you have a heart attack or do you want a bowel specialist or a chest specialist?"
Once initial feedback has been gathered from public meetings on the four viable models of care released - which potentially could see A&E and maternity services centralised into Worcester and in once case the Alex close altogether - a shortlist of options will be drawn up and released in August for further feedback. They will then be refined and a period of formal consultation will start in November - not September as originally planned - and end in February. It means a final decision is now expected early next year.
Space is still available for the extra meeting to discuss the changes at Redditch Town Hall on Tuesday, July 10 between 6pm and 8pm. To book email firstname.lastname@example.org, giving the event date and location or call 01905 733981.
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