Hereford & Worcester

Paediatrics moved from Alexandra Hospital in Redditch on 'temporary' basis

Alexandra Hospital Redditch Image copyright Google
Image caption Alexandra Hospital in Redditch will have its inpatient paediatric services moved on a "temporary" basis to Worcester from September, trust officials have said

Children's services at a hospital in Worcestershire are being moved nearly 20 miles away because of a shortage of junior doctors.

Worcestershire Acute Hospitals NHS Trust said in-patient paediatrics were being moved from Alexandra Hospital in Redditch "under emergency measures" and on a temporary basis.

From September they will be moved to Worcestershire Royal Hospital, in Worcester.

Campaigners have criticised the move.

It follows the removal of neonatal services at Alexandra last year, a move backed by the local MP but opposed by protestors.

More on this and other stories in Hereford and Worcester

Analysis: Michele Paduano, BBC Midlands health correspondent

Temporary closures on safety grounds appear to be the norm now.

Maternity was temporarily closed at the Alexandra Hospital in November 2015, but that has now become permanent before any consultation.

The Royal College of Paediatrics supports fewer children's in-patient centres. Concentrating cases can lead to better care and there is a shortage of specialists, but millions can be saved by not providing 24-hour specialist doctor and anaesthetic cover, and the trust had a near £60m deficit last year.

The big issue is whether Redditch parents will want to travel 18 miles to Worcester when Birmingham Children's Hospital is the same distance away.

Dr Andrew Short, the trust's interim chief medical officer and senior consultant paediatrician, said consultants had been covering gaps in the junior doctors' rotas to keep services running, but this was "no longer sustainable" due to a national shortage of junior doctors.

"This is not a decision we have taken lightly and we recognise that this will for some be a cause of concern," he said.

"Safety is our top priority and I would like to reassure the public that we are making these temporary changes so that we can ensure the highest levels of care for children."

However, Neal Stote, from the Save the Alex campaign group, said the move showed acute NHS services in Worcestershire were "in serious crisis".

"Worcestershire Royal, by its own admission, particularly after this weekend, is not big enough, yet they're driving the sickest children down there," he said.

"Ultimately it's another part of the clinical model forced through before the people of Redditch and Bromsgrove have even had a say."

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