ALEXANDRA HOSPITAL MEETING
Over 400 residents turned up to the public meeting that I called on Wednesday (28 September 2016), giving members of the public their chance to question consultants, doctors and members of the board of Worcestershire Acute Hospitals NHS Trust about their plans for the future of the Alexandra Hospital in Redditch.
First of all, I was delighted to see so many people there, all with relevant questions to ask, and second, I was extremely grateful for the time committed to the meeting by those consultants and staff at our hospital.
Caragh Merrick, the newly-appointed chair of the Trust, said at the meeting that she was very aware that the Acute Trust had not engaged with its community sufficiently in the past, and that she intended to put that right. I commend that standpoint and I very much look forward to working with Caragh and her team in the coming months and years.
There have been rumblings and rumours of changes, and indeed changes to services that have taken place at the Alex in the 25 years and more since it was built. But we are where we are now, and we have to secure the best that we can for the people of Redditch.
Some people may not want to hear this, but I know that the Acute Trust have worked extremely hard to get to the position they are now in. The children's and maternity wards were moved the Worcester due to a lack of staffing. As I said at the meeting, this is not about money, but a national inability to recruit the necessary staff to run specialised services across all hospitals.
I welcome the forthcoming consultation regarding the clinical model that has been put forward by the Trust for the running of our hospital services in Worcestershire, including in Redditch, and it looks now as if that will commence officially in November and run for 12 weeks. That will be enough time for individuals as well as community and other interest groups to make their points to the Trust board.
The public meeting was the first time members of the Trust board and CCG (Clinical Commissioning Group) had to be able to judge the mood of many members of the public in Redditch, and certainly in that respect it was a very worthwhile exercise. The very purpose of the meeting was to allow residents the opportunity to question Worcestershire Acute Hospitals NHS Trust about their plans for the Alex, and that was achieved. The forthcoming consultation, I hope, will be a chance to extend that opportunity even further.
I would like to personally thank all members of the panel for taking the time to come to the meeting – I believe it was a very important start in a very important process. I would also like to thank all those involved in the organisation of the event, as these things don't just happen, and last but not least, I thank everyone who took the time out on a Wednesday evening to come to the meeting and ask their questions, or simply just to listen.