By Ian Dipple 20/07 Updated: 20/07 10:15
DOCTORS and hospital bosses have come face-to-face with members of the Save the Alex group for the first time in what has been described as a 'frank and open discussion'.
A private meeting took place on Monday (July 16) in which campaigners challenged members of Worcestershire Acute Hospitals NHS Trust and the Redditch and Bromsgrove GP Clinical Commissioning Group (GPCCG) to produce the evidence to back up plans to reconfigure hospital services in the county.
It was agreed the two groups would meet at certain times throughout the review process and the Trust would share more detailed information about the reasons behind the changes including the finances and clinical evidence.
The campaign group was also reassured the Trust wanted to be open and transparent with people and no decision had been made.
The Trust has also agreed to hold more public meetings with residents and the Redditch and Bromsgrove GPCCG - which will buy care services for the area from April next year - confirmed local doctors would be holding their own review of the proposals to decide if they were in the best interests of patients.
Neal Stote, head of the Save the Alex campaign, said the meeting was productive but together with the other 35,000 plus people who had signed the petition, he was not convinced about closing A&E and maternity at the Alex.
"The Trust has yet to produce the evidence to support the case for change," he said.
"For planned treatment there is a debate to be had, but for emergency care and imminent child birth I, as do thousands of others, remain to be convinced it is safer to travel over 40 minutes plus.
"There are big questions to be asked about capacity. The Alex sometimes diverts to Worcester and Worcester diverts to the Alex, where will we go if the Alex's A&E goes? We believe there is already a bed shortage in the county of about 400 and these proposals will just make things worse."
A spokeswoman for the Trust said the meeting had been 'positive and productive'.
"The JSR welcomes the view from the campaign group they are not opposed to change but understand they, and the public in that part of Worcestershire, are concerned about the impact of service change on the local population. It was agreed more information would be shared, including work on access and transport, as the clinical models of care became more developed and tested, and further discussed with the public and staff, over the next few months."
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