Worcestershire Acute Hospitals NHS Trust has been left implementing an “urgent transition plan” in an attempt to ensure the continuation of vital services, following the resignation of five Accident and Emergency Department consultants. The Independent reports that resignations were received from four staff members at the Alexandra Hospital in Redditch – constituting the entire team – and one from a staff member from the Trust’s Worcestershire Royal Hospital. It is believed all five have taken up offers of employment at Warwick Hospital, instead.
In light of the unprecedented situation, The Worcestershire Acute Hospitals Trust released a statement to the press, as reported by Metro.
“The Trust can confirm that it has received resignations from five emergency department consultants. It is believed all five consultants have received alternative offers of employment.”
“We would wish to stress that services will continue to be provided as normal and an urgent transition plan will be put in place, in conjunction with stakeholders, to ensure that patients can continue to receive safe and high quality urgent care going forward.”
The NHS consultants in question have not openly addressed the media, however the BBC Midlands Today Health Correspondent, Michele Paduano investigated their actions for the BBC.
“I am reliably told that the relationship between management and consultants has completely broken down. They had identified problems in the department and solutions, but weren’t listened to. I am told that they are very close to their teams and so would not have taken this decision lightly. One said it wasn’t because he didn’t love his job.”
Local campaigner Neil Stote, speaking on behalf of the Save The Alex campaign group, spoke to the press, including the BBC.
“It shows something is not right – the failure to retain staff is shocking. Something’s not right. The best outcome for the whole county would be for a [new] trust with a proven track record to take over. To have five consultants leave in one day is a damning verdict of Worcestershire Acute Hospitals Trust.”
The mounting uncertainty of staff within the Trust with regard to job security and the future of NHS services at Alexandra Hospital in particular, is reportedly exacerbated by the fact that it has been struggling to reach targets while treating a higher number of patients. The Malvern Gazette reports that, while hospitals are required by government to see patients within four hours of their arrival, the most recent figures indicate that Worcestershire Acute Hospitals Trust achieves this in only 84.9 percent of cases – reflecting an ongoing trend of poor performance in the county.
In political terms, the news comes as the United Kingdom gears up for a General Election – due to take place on May 7 2015 – in which the plight of the NHS, and its future, is expected to play a decisive role. The NHS has become a hotly contested issue in the current parliament, led by a Conservative-Liberal Democrat coalition, due to vast funding cuts, long-term pay freezes and the constant threat of privatization.
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