Rachel Maclean, MP for Redditch County, along with other Worcestershire MPs, met with Secretary of State for Health, Jeremy Hunt yesterday (Tuesday), to discuss her priorities for the Alexandra Hospital. As part of her election pledges she had promised to meet with the Secretary of State, and has done so at the earliest opportunity.
Having questioned him in the House of Commons at Health Oral Questions earlier in the day regarding staff recruitment and retention, she was now anxious to follow up regarding other issues with the Secretary of State.
Rachel said: “Firstly I was seeking clarity over the completion of the business case following the local consultation and the £29m promised investment into the Trust. I was pleased that he confirmed this was a top priority for him.”
Secondly, Rachel wanted to know what assessment he had made of the level of demand needed to provide a maternity service at a particular location.
She added: “I wanted to raise this point powerfully, and to make sure that the level of maternity services provided is always appropriate for the population in question.”
Rachel was also keen to explain the strength of feeling in Redditch, and that, while welcoming the investment into maternity facilities at Worcester, there were problems with patients travelling there, especially given the low level of car ownership in Redditch.
On that point Rachel added: “Additionally if families want to visit loved ones who have just given birth, and they live in Redditch, this presents difficulties travelling with young children in tow. I do want to be able to give people an assurance that if the population does grow significantly, we should expect to see maternity services returned to the Alex.”
After the meeting Jeremy Hunt said: “I am aware of the challenges facing the Worcestershire Acute Hospitals Trust, and I keep this under close review with the Chief Inspector of Hospitals at the CQC. I listened to Rachel’s concerns about the outcome of the consultation process. I want to see this plan put in place quickly, which will be the first step in releasing extra funding.
“We know that leadership is a key issue in many of the Trusts that go into special measures, and I am pleased to see new leadership at the WAHT working hard to deliver on the turnaround plan, which has been welcomed by frontline staff. We are starting to see encouraging signs, and we want to support them in keeping up the momentum to improve outcomes for patients.
Rachel also raised the issue of recruitment and retention of staff, as she has in the House of Commons.
She also brought up local maternity services – “I want to assure her constituents that improving maternity safety is one of the main priorities for this Government. This is why we are investing in new midwife-led birthing units, so that women have the safest and best experience when they give birth.”
Rachel will also be working with the Trust, the Department of Health and CQC to ensure winter pressure plans are put in place.