Letters

I have been accused by John Lister (letters, pages 24-25, 29 June) of refusing to answer key questions. It's not that I don't answer, it's that he and other campaigners for Kidderminster Hospital don't listen when I do.

Worcester Royal Infirmary will not have a 35 per cent bed reduction, as he states, nor are our plans for acute beds in Worcestershire out of line with the analysis carried out by our own consultants, those of the private finance initiative team or with the national beds inquiry.

The viability of Worcestershire's PFI hospital has been confirmed by the NHS Executive and Treasury independently of our service reconfiguration plans.

We are planning health services for the whole 530,000 who live in the county - we will have three acute hospital sites, each specialising in a different sphere of provision - ambulatory care, emergency and vascular services and orthopaedics and urology.

In addition, each of the three sites will provide for most of the local acute hospital needs of their local populations - outpatients, diagnostics and day surgery. Acute hospital services will operate in the context of a move to strengthen and expand primary care, procure intermediate care and develop a network of support services, including inpatient provision in community hospitals and nursing homes. A small reduction from the present 1,035 acute beds to 988 acute beds in 2002 will be more than offset by the major investment in primary, community and intermediate care.

John Lister says I have not identified plans or resources - wrong. The plans exist, are being implemented by local teams led by primary care groups and social services, and since 1998£6.7m real terms investment has been made across the county.

Judicial review was an attempt to overturn well thought-out proposals.

It tied up the health authority, our plans and our resources for nearly 12 months as it went through three different stages of appeal. The HA won at every turn and our approach has been vindicated.

But the effect of these delays has been to hasten the clinical fragility that we had predicted would arise in two to three years' time at Kidderminster Hospital. Key staff have left, and new recruits aren't attracted to a small hospital surrounded in such controversy. This has brought about the early move of services.

Mrs P Archer-Jones Chief executive Worcestershire HA