EXPECTANT mothers from across the county will all deliver at the Worcestershire Royal after the the decision to close Redditch’s Alexandra Hospital’s maternity unit.
Worcestershire Acute Hospitals NHS Trust broke the news on Friday (October 31) and said it did not have enough staff at the Alex to operate the unit safely and the situation had now become critical.
All births and neonatal services at the Alex will be transferred to the Worcestershire Royal from noon on Thursday (November 5). But the Trust maintains this will only be a temporary measure.
Mari Gray, interim chief nursing officer, said: “Despite all efforts we are unable to safely cover all of our neonatal rotas, especially at weekends.
“This is something we cannot ignore as our key staff delivering the care to some of our most vulnerable woman and babies have quite rightly raised concerns with me.
“From Thursday we cannot consistently cover the evening shifts with the numbers and seniority of experienced staff needed to provide the standard of care we want.
“This is a temporary change. We will only reopen the service when we are confident that we have all of the senior qualified staff in place to consistently cover all of the rotas.
“We will be looking to review this position in February next year.”
In May the trust responded to rumours the maternity services at the Alex would be gone by Christmas as ‘nonsense’.
The trust has said its midwives are currently in the process of contacting all of the women expecting to have their babies delivered at the Alex, to inform them and offer reassurance they will receive the highest standards of care – albeit in a different location.
Dr Carl Ellson and Simon Hairsnape, speaking on behalf of the three Worcestershire clinical commissioning groups, said: “We fully support the trust’s decision.
“Staff have worked tremendously hard over the past months to keep services available at both hospital sites and we would like to thank them for going above and beyond what would normally be expected of them.
“The current shortage of specialist staff means it would be unsafe to continue with the current arrangements.
“We are working with the trust to resolve this issue as soon as possible and in the meantime will continue to monitor the safety of those services.”
Jo Newton, independent chair of the Future of Acute Hospital Services in Worcestershire Programme Board said: “The Programme Board has always had patient safety at the centre of its deliberations and the members therefore recognise the need for these temporary changes to be made on an emergency basis.
“The clinical model for the future of acute hospital services in Worcestershire is still being finalised and it will be subjected to full public consultation before any permanent changes to existing services are made.
“The national shortage of specialist staff was one of the key drivers for the current reconfiguration which started four years ago and these temporary emergency changes make it all the more important to find a long-term, sustainable solution for acute hospital services in the county.
“In the meantime we will continue to monitor the safety of services through the Programme Board’s Quality and Service Sustainability committee.”