HEALTH bosses have been told to prove they can stump up the cash for the reconfiguration of hospital services before the plans are put to the public.
NHS England has asked for assurance from the Trust Development Authority and Worcestershire Acute Hospitals NHS Trust they can access the capital money needed for work on both the Alexandra and Worcestershire Royal Hospitals before public consultation will be allowed to start in September.
WAHT is preparing to submit an initial estimate of what may be required, currently £35million, but it is not clear at this stage if they will be able to provide the guarantee NHS England is looking for.
A spokeswoman for the TDA told the Standard they were in discussions with NHS England and were looking to identify the ‘most suitable sources of funding’ while a spokeswoman for the project called the request for assurance a ‘routine’ part of the process.
It is potentially another stumbling block for project leaders who are facing a race against time to complete the detailed work up of the recommendations of the independent clinical review panel.
The three groups set-up to analyse the details around emergency, women and children’s and planned care were supposed to finish at the end of May but are now not expected to report until the middle of this month at the earliest.
Even if they hit the new deadline, the clinical models still need to be checked by Nigel Beasley, chair of the ICRP to ensure they are compliant with their recommendations. The financial case then needs to be worked up to ensure both the Trust and commissioners can afford the proposals and then NHS England has to give its approval before consultation can start.
A failure to hit the September deadline would mean there would be little chance of a final decision before the next General Election.
Concerns are being expressed both publicly and privately about the timescales involved but Dr Jonathan Wells, chair of Redditch and Bromsgrove Clinical Commissioning Group, insisted despite missing the initial deadline the project was on track.
“The task and finish groups are working intensively and good progress has been made by all three groups.”
Penny Venables, chief executive of WAHT, added they had stressed to colleagues the importance of completing the work on time.
“The timescales are tight but they always have been,” she said.
“It is complicated because we want to get the models right. There’s no dissent amongst any of us about the importance of hitting that date.”