IT’S been a tumultuous year for local health services in Redditch and beyond in 2017.
The year started with the chairman of Worcestershire Hospitals Acute NHS Trust Caragh Merrick vowing ‘never again’ after figures showed over the Christmas period 109 patients waited more than 12 hours on trolleys in Accident & Emergency with the main problem being at Worcestershire Royal Hospital.
The deaths of three patients at the Royal, later found to be outside the control of hospital staff, brought the Trust to the attention of Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt who said Worcestershire Royal was the hospital ‘he was most worried about of all’.
At the time, the then vice chairman of the Trust, John Burbeck said: “We are running at 100 per cent capacity, we’re full, and to be effective we need to be at about 85 per cent and we are not going to fix this without help from elsewhere.”
The year ends with the Trust again running close to capacity and finalising its business case for £29.6million in capital funding to be released by the Government.
In between we’ve had the appointment of top health professional Michelle McKay from Australia to head up WAHT.
The tragic death of Matchborough youngster Callum Cartledge followed by a march in his honour, Redditch doctors voting for a reconfiguration of health services in Worcestershire and Redditch Borough Council calling for the town to be aligned with University Hospitals Birmingham NHS Foundation Trust, which runs the Queen Elizabeth Hospital, rather than with Worcester.
The year also saw the disbandment of the Save the Alex campaign and its former chairman Neal Stote standing in the General Election for the National Health Action Party.
However the Redditch public went for the Conservative candidate Rachel Maclean, who scored a resounding victory.
Despite this, Mr Stote still keeps a watchful eye on local health provision.
He said: “Little has changed – patients are still waiting on trolleys and the Trust is still missing its referral to treatment times.
“We do not have the GP-led Urgent Care Centre in Redditch that was promised and we still have no clear policy on where you take a child if he or she falls ill.
“I’m desperate to be proved wrong that the plan they’ve been working on will make a difference.”