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No competition law breach over Alex Birmingham plan

By Ian Dipple Friday 01 February 2013 Updated: 01/02 12:40

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TRANSFERRING the Alexandra Hospital to another Trust would not break competition law.

Eamonn Kelly, the man leading the review of hospital services in Worcestershire, said the issue of who was responsible for running the Woodrow Drive hospital was a matter for the Department of Health's own rules of co-operation and competition, not EU competition law.

Ultimately if it is decided to bring in Birmingham Trusts to run services, the final decision will be up to Health Minister Dr Dan Poulter to decide if the transfer of the Alex meets those rules.

Mr Kelly said: "These rules are complicated but it is clear this kind of proposal could be approved by the Department of Health. Transfers between NHS providers occur all the time.

"For example in 2011 we transferred a number of services to Worcestershire Acute Hospitals Trust, including the Wyre Forest Community Unit.

"As people are aware there is a lot of work still to do in respect of the Joint Services Review but we are clear that competition law wouldn’t be a specific problem if the alternative providers of services were the right answer for our population."

The reassurance comes following comments made at a board meeting of Worcestershire Acute Hospitals NHS Trust in Redditch this week which suggested there could be issues around competition law which needed clarification.

Redditch MP Karen Lumley told the Standard: "As far as I'm concerned the Alexandra Hospital belongs to the NHS and that's a discussion I'm having with the Health Minister and I'm awaiting a decision as to what happens to the hospital which I am hoping is imminent."

Talks are continuing between commissioners WAHT and University Hospitals Birmingham, Birmingham Children's Hospital and Birmingham Women's Hospital about future service provision at the Alex.

An announcement is expected at the end of February or early March.

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