HEALTH chiefs have been criticised for their handling of a major shake-up of services at Evesham Community Hospital to meet the growing demand for endoscopies.
Town Labour chiefs described the proposals as a ‘fait accompli’ in a letter to Worcestershire Health and Care Trust chief Sarah Dugan seen by the Observer.
Chair David Haslam and vice chair Helen Russell revealed concern at the proposed changes being suggested by the Health and Care Trust which runs the hospital and the Acute Hospitals NHS Trust which provide the endoscopy services.
Health chiefs have proposed a £130,000 investment to increase the number of such treatments from 294 to 645 a year in a bid to tackle rising waiting times but added some procedures would move from the Waterside site to the
Kidderminster Treatment Centre or Redditch’s Alexandra Hospital to free up theatre space.
“Whilst welcoming the increase in endoscopies proposed for Evesham, we are concerned at the impact on access to other services,” the letter said.
“Patients have already seen services cut and clinics relocated elsewhere, including the loss of breast cancer, eye and dermatology clinics.
“The population of the town is increasing and there needs to be adequate local services to meet Evesham’s needs. We believe there should be an expansion in services rather than a reduction in clinics and types of procedures offered.
“One short meeting with residents falls short of meaningful consultation and we call on the Trust to carry out a larger consultation with staff and service users before making any changes.
Labour chiefs also raised concerns about Vale residents having to travel to Kidderminster for some treatments.
“It is nigh on impossible to get to Kidderminster Hospital by public transport. The journey takes more than two and a half hours by bus with two changes,” the letter added.
In a joint statement both trusts stressed the importance of the Waterside site.
“We are committed to deliver a wide range of services from this site and want to ensure this great hospital is used as effectively as possible,” trust chiefs said.
“We will continue to work with our patients and the wider community to receive feedback on the service we offer and to consider any changes that are proposed when the need arises.
“By expanding the endoscopy service at Evesham, investing in new equipment and recruiting more staff, we will be able to reduce waiting times and improve care for thousands of patients each year.
“We will be able to make much better use of the theatres there than has previously been possible and enable hundreds more Evesham people to have potentially life-saving diagnostic tests at their local hospital”.