Rachel Maclean, MP for Redditch County, has vowed to hold Worcestershire Clinical Commission Groups (CCGc) to account, and to work closely with them to ensure promises are delivered quickly and effectively after a unanimous vote this morning (12 July) to endorse a consultation on the provision of local health services.
While the plan will confirm the closure of maternity and paediatrics wards at the Alex, it also pledges additional and upgraded facilities at the Redditch hospital, and while Rachel is very critical of the consultation process, she is determined to make sure these promises are delivered.
Rachel said after the meeting: “The Alex was the number one issue raised during the recent election campaign, and I quickly understood why people are concerned and anxious by what has been happening.
“People don’t want to travel out of the area for treatment, and not everyone has a car, while parking itself can be an issue when you get to the Worcestershire Royal. Likewise, when you’re a parent and you have to leave your child in hospital overnight, you want to be close to them.
“Residents also point to new housing developments and worry this will make services stretched in future.”
Rachel has strongly taken forward the view of many in Redditch that the consultation process has been unsatisfactory, and has sought clarity that there are no plans to centralise more services and that Redditch will have a hospital both now and in the future that is fit for the size of the town.
In an open letter to the Redditch & Bromsgrove CCG, Rachel said she could not give her full support to the proposals.
“I cannot support any proposal that removes services from Redditch in favour of having them delivered at the Worcestershire Royal against the wishes of Redditch people,” she added. “In the consultation, 81 per cent of respondents opposed the centralisation of maternity services to Worcester. Similarly, for children’s inpatient services, 80 per cent disagreed that they should be moved to Worcester.
“I am deeply unhappy that this situation exists. I will be writing in the strongest possible terms to the CCG to register my disappointment both with the way the consultation was carried out, effectively not giving people any choice, and then ignoring the overwhelming view of the people of Redditch who favoured not transferring services to Worcester.
“However I do welcome some of the benefits that come out of this review – better and safer care, more access to specialists, fewer planned operations, better facilities and, critically, an an end to uncertainty giving the opportunity to put staff recruitment back on a positive footing.”
Rachel will also be calling on the CCG to be clearer with the public on which services are delivered in their local area so they know where to take sick children and their loved ones, as this signposting has been poor in the past.
Additionally, she has sought and received assurances from Ministers that there will be a 24-hour A&E for adults at the Alex and 24-hour urgent care for under 16s, with an emergency response in place by ambulance to access lifesaving care in the best locality in an emergency for under 16s.
Now that the vote has taken place, Rachel will be requesting to be kept fully informed of any future decisions on service changes, and will be asking the CCG to look again at their consultation process in future, so that it commands the confidence of the public.
However she does not support any attempt to re-open the consultation process at this point or call for it to be overturned.
She said: “This would be a backward step in the whole process. What I want to do now is work closely with the CCG to see the consultation outcomes delivered quickly and effectively, the promised capital investment delivered, to take into account the strength of feeling of local people, and to ensure that in future, we take a different approach.”