“I’ve always said the Alex is my top priority and I will never stop fighting for our town’s hospital. The Alex has a bright future ahead of it.” – Rachel Maclean MP
Rachel has hailed victory in her campaign to secure the return of the Garden Suite to the Alexandra Hospital.
The chemotherapy unit had been under threat of not being returned to the Alex, with the Worcestershire Acute Hospitals NHS Trust actively considering the option of permanently relocating the Garden Suite to Kidderminster Hospital.
However, on February 4th, the Trust confirmed to Rachel that the service will be returning to the Alex.
The saga began when the Trust temporarily relocated the chemotherapy unit to Kidderminster Hospital during the pandemic in order to keep chemotherapy patients safe.
Then, back in March 2021, the Acute Trust publicly said they were considering making the move permanent.
Rachel immediately convened a meeting of the Alex Working Group to tell Trust bosses this was unacceptable and that “temporary must mean temporary.”
Since then, Rachel met with the Trust countless times to make the case for the service’s return to the Alex and launched a petition, signed by more than 8,600 residents online alone, which backed Rachel’s calls for the Garden Suite to be returned to Redditch.
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What did you do to secure Garden Suite's return?
As soon as local health bosses publicly said, without warning, that they may decide to keep the Garden Suite permanently at Kidderminster, I convened an urgent meeting of my Alex Working Group.
I made it clear to local health bosses, who run the Alex, that it was unacceptable the Garden Suite may not return. I told them temporary must mean temporary.
I wrote to the Chief Executive of NHS Herefordshire and Worcestershire Clinical Commissioning Group, Simon Trickett, who is responsible for commissioning chemotherapy services in Worcestershire.
In my letter to Mr Trickett, I outlined my concerns about the distance my constituents will have to travel for chemotherapy treatment if the Garden Suite remains in Kidderminster.
To leave no stone unturned, I also involved government ministers to ensure I’m doing everything I can as your local MP to return the Garden Suite.
I also met with Acute Trust bosses countless times over the past 11 months to make the case for the Garden Suite’s return.
And, to demonstrate public support for the return of this service to the Alex, I launched an online petition. The petition was signed by more than 8,600 residents online alone – sending a clear message to the Trust that the people of Redditch wanted the Garden Suite to be returned to the Alex.
I’m now working with the Trust on the timeframe for the service’s return. As soon as possible is my position.
Why was the Garden Suite temporarily removed to begin with?
During the pandemic, the Government made available billions of pounds in extra money for the NHS in order to make temporary changes to protect services and patients.
Worcestershire Acute Hospitals NHS Trust, which runs the Alexandra Hospital, used this money to temporarily re-locate the Garden Suite from the Alex to Kidderminster Hospital in order to protect immunosuppressed chemotherapy patients.
Local health bosses initially told us this move was temporary.
However, in March 2021, local health bosses said publicly, and without warning, that they could decide to make this move permanent.
I believed this would have been wrong and unacceptable and I vowed to fight local health bosses on this all the way – which is exactly what I did.
What about maternity and children's services?
The fight to return maternity and children’s services to the Alexandra Hospital is an ongoing battle with the Acute Trust.
I was re-elected in 2019 with an overwhelming mandate to campaign to return these services to our town’s MP – and that’s exactly what I’ve been doing ever since.
I have already set-up the Alex Working Group which is made up of me as the MP for Redditch, the Chief Executive and Chairman of Worcestershire Acute Hospitals NHS Trust, as well as other key local stakeholders.
This group will be used as a forum to discuss all matters relating to the Alexandra Hospital, and to intensify discussions over my campaign to return a maternity service and paediatric service to the Alex.
If we’re to return services to the Alex, then I must engage with health bosses in a positive and constructive way – and this working group is a clear sign of this new approach, but this doesn’t mean I won’t continue to hold the Trust & health bosses to account.