Worcestershire hospital plan will make care 'less safe' says doctor

Image caption,
Dr Santi Vathenen was a consultant chest physician but resigned in 2015

A senior doctor has sent an open letter to healthcare managers criticising plans to reorganise hospital services in Worcestershire.

Dr Santi Vathenen was a consultant chest physician for more than 20 years at the Alexandra Hospital in Redditch until he resigned in 2015.

He said he would rather see the hospital close than see specialist and emergency services stripped away.

The clinical groups behind the plans said they would "listen to concerns".

Image caption,
Dr Vathenen's letter was sent as feedback to proposals on the hospitals' future

Dr Vathenen wrote his letter in response to an invitation for feedback on the proposals - part of a consultation called The Future of Acute Hospital Services in Worcestershire.

The consultation document proposes a shake-up of health services across Worcestershire, with areas like obstetrics, gynaecology, paediatrics and acute surgery transferring from Redditch to Worcester as part of plans to save £5m. The Worcestershire Acute Hospitals NHS Trust currently has a financial deficit.

"The main concern I have is that moving the specialities proposed from Redditch to Worcester will leave the remaining substantial part of acute medicine and the emergency department less safe for patients," Dr Vathenen said.

He said that stroke services had already been centralised in Worcester, and claimed that had led to a "deteriorating" service.

"The transfer of a vital acute service from Redditch to Worcester has not produce the benefits that were promised and in fact has ended up destroying existing good services on both sites," he said.

"There is no evidence that moving services from Redditch to Worcester will save any money; in fact the experience with stroke services suggest this will actually cost more."

A spokesperson for the three Worcestershire clinical commissioning groups behind the plan said the consultation is due to close on March 30.

"We will consider all the responses before any final decision is made," he said.

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