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By Ian Dipple Wednesday 18 December 2013 Updated: 19/12 09:51
CAMPAIGNERS have held a candlelit vigil outside the Alexandra Hospital just weeks before a key report is released outlining its future.
About 80 members of the public and politicians gathered outside the Woodrow Drive hospital for three hours as a final public show of support for staff and services before the report is published.
As expected, NHS England say the findings of the independent clinical panel scrutinising the future of services at the Woodrow Drive site will be revealed in January.
But first they will be handed to members of the Future of Acute Hospitals in Worcestershire programme board - including commissioners and members of Worcestershire Acute Hospitals NHS Trust - which will decide how the review will proceed, including what option or options will be consulted on.
The panel has met with commissioners from across Worcestershire and the Trust to discuss the arguments and clinical evidence around the proposed service reconfiguration.
When it does report it is not expected to approve allowing another provider - namely University Hospitals Birmingham - to takeover the running of the Alex due to the impact on health services elsewhere in the county.
But as the Standard reported a month ago, it looks increasingly likely A&E will be secured in line with Sir Bruce Keogh's national review, meaning it will broadly remain as it is now.
It will be up to commissioners, including GPs in Redditch and Bromsgrove, to consult with the public on the report and make decisions on how acute hospital services will be provided in the future.
Martin Lee, clinical director for NHS England, Arden Herefordshire and Worcestershire, said: "The Independent Clinical Review process has been of great value in assessing the clinical quality and safety of the proposed options and also how hospital care for patients can be sustained in the future.
"It has been really helpful to have the views of external experts on the best way of delivering excellent health services to people in Worcestershire."
Mark Wake, clinical director at Worcestershire Acute Hospitals NHS Trust, said: "We all need to work together to achieve high quality and sustainable clinical services."
Neal Stote, chairman of the Save the Alex campaign, said: "For almost two years we've made the argument that any reconfiguration has to deliver safe services but also those that are accessible and with the capacity to ensure the wider health system in the region can cope.
"We can only hope the NHS has listened as well as accepted the very real evidence produced demonstrating the impact downgrading services at the Alex will have on the poor and the vulnerable."
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