Chief executive: No plan to give up the Alex

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

THE HEAD of the Trust which runs the Alex has insisted there are no plans to transfer the hospital to another organisation.

Penny Venables, chief executive of Worcestershire Acute Hospitals NHS Trust, also denied they had ever issued proposals to severely downgrade the Woodrow Drive site or centralise services into Worcester.

Responding to news commissioners were in talks with Birmingham Trusts to run services at the Alex, Mrs Venables said: "The Alexandra is an integral part of Worcestershire Acute Hospitals NHS Trust and there are no plans for it to be transferred to another organisation.

"As one of the partners in the Joint Services Review, Worcestershire Acute Hospitals NHS Trust is committed to providing safe, sustainable clinical services for patients across the county."

At a Trust board meeting in Redditch on Wednesday (January 30) she added if another provider was brought in there would be 'issues' around competition law and clarification would be needed from the Government.

But 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."

Redditch MP Karen Lumley urged commissioners to ensure all viable options were put to the public.

"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," she said.

"The public have a right to know the full range of options available, whether this future belongs with University Hospitals Birmingham or the Worcestershire Trust."

Last June the Joint Services Review - of which WAHT is a part - released six models for the provision of future healthcare in the county, which could have reduced the Alex to just an outpatients and diagnostics centre, while another would have seen it closed completely.

In the face of huge opposition from the public, politicians and clinicians it was announced last October the JSR had switched its focus to providing as many services as possible on all three of the county's hospital sites.

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