NHS hospital review bill set to top £2.5m

By Ian Dipple Thursday 17 April 2014 Updated: 18/04 08:37

HEALTH bosses have been accused of wasting a staggering amount of money after it was revealed the review of the county's hospital services is set to reach almost £2.5million.

An estimated budget of £1.14million has been earmarked by the county's commissioners and other NHS organisations for this financial year, as they prepare to go out to formal public consultation on final proposals for Worcestershire's hospitals this Summer or early Autumn. It includes £100,000 for consultants Mott MacDonald to conduct an equality impact assessment, part of which involves a transport survey of patients to find out how they access hospital services.

The project has already cost £1.3million despite failing to produce any firm options more than two years after it was launched as the Joint Services Review in January 2012.

That phase ended early last year with two options to either centralise A&E, maternity and children's services into Worcester or bring in another Trust to run the Alex, which led to a row between commissioners and Worcestershire Acute Hospitals NHS Trust about the way forward.

An Independent Clinical Review Panel (ICRP) was asked to examine the options and recommended in January the Woodrow Drive hospital keeps its A&E in the form of an emergency centre and a greater range of maternity and children's services. A series of specialist sub-groups are working-up the findings in detail.

But the outcome depends on whether or not the ICRP's recommendations are viable financially, which will not be known until May. If they prove unaffordable or the county's NHS is unable to access money to support the changes from the Government, it could reignite the row between commissioners and see the review drag on further still.

Neal Stote, chairman of the Save the Alex campaign, said it was a disgrace and blamed the Trust for hastily putting together the original six models released in June 2012.

"The £1.3million in 2012 was totally wasted," he said.

"They rushed into this review totally disregarding the health needs of Worcestershire, surrounding areas and indeed the impact a severe downgrade of the Alex would have on the West Midlands health economy."

Redditch MP Karen Lumley said she was staggered at the cost and called for a detailed explanation of where the money had and was being spent.

"Money has been spent on something which did not produce any result and should have been spent in hospitals treating patients."

But a spokeswoman for the current review team said the county's NHS had a budget of more than £750million and the cost of the review compared favourably with other reconfigurations across the country.

"The costs are non-recurrent and earmarked for transformational change, so cannot be spent on recurrent patient services. The reconfiguration will save costs in the future."

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