Five accident and emergency consultants have resigned from a troubled West Midlands acute trust across two hospitals, including all four consultants from one department.
Worcestershire Acute Hospitals Trust has said services will continue to be provided at Alexandra Hospital in Redditch after all four of its A&E consultants resigned late last week. One other A&E consultant has resigned from the trust’s neighbouring Worcester Royal Hospital.
The trust said it believed all five consultants have received alternative offers of work, with four being offered jobs at Warwick Hospital. The resignations come amid a long running debate over the future of acute and urgent care services in Worcestershire, where the trust is struggling to achieve financial and clinical sustainability.
The trust is forecasting a year end deficit of £28m, and is currently in the process of evaluating a reconfiguration proposal which would see the A&E at Alexandra Hospital become an emergency centre linked with Worcester Royal. Worcester Royal would take over treatment of the most seriously ill patients and inpatient paediatrics.
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A statement from the trust following the resignations said there had been widespread clinical engagement over the plans and the consultants who had resigned had been able to express their opinions.
It said: “The future of acute hospital services in Worcestershire has been under review for more than three years. Over this period there has been significant engagement of all clinical staff - both hospital consultants and GPs. Whilst there will always be differences of clinical opinion, all clinicians have had an opportunity to have their say and the final proposed model was endorsed by an independent clinical review panel in early 2014, subject to some further modifications.
“The proposed clinical model is currently being reviewed by the West Midlands clinical senate as part of NHS England’s assurance process. The trust’s A&E consultants have given evidence to the West Midlands clinical senate as part of the review.
“The ongoing delays in moving forward have been a source of frustration for all parties and there was a recognised risk that staff could leave for other posts in the event of continued uncertainty. The trust will now focus on its recruitment plans to replace the departing staff once they have served their notice. In the meantime, services will continue as normal whilst plans are put in place to manage a safe transition.”
Local patient campaign group Save the Alex has called for the Alexandra to be taken over by University Hospitals Birmingham Foundation Trust, although there are no plans for this to happen and an earlier idea of a takeover was not accepted by a service review.
Neal Stote, chair of the Save the Alex campaign, said: “The decision by the five ED consultants to quit on one day is unprecedented and the ultimate vote of no confidence in the management.”
Information supplied by HSJ