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New Worcester hospital unit 'is not for centralising casualty services'
A TOP medical expert has denied that a new ‘temporary’ surgical unit at Worcester’s accident and emergency department means NHS bosses have already decided to centralise casualty services there.
Rose Johnson, assistant medical director at Worcestershire Acute Hos-pitals NHS Trust, said the surgical clinical decision unit (SCDU) at Worcestershire Royal Hospital would be a ‘temporary building’ and would be used in part to manage increased numbers of patients over the winter.
Earlier this week Rebecca Blake, Labour’s parliamentary spokesman for the Redditch constituency, asked if plans for the unit were connected to Worcestershire Royal Hospital expecting to take more patients once the A&E at the Alexandra Hospital in Redditch is closed.
This is one of the possible results of a controversial joint services review to claw back £50 million over the next three years but no shortlist of options has yet been published.
But Ms Johnson said: “This is not about the joint services review. It’s about providing the best quality surgical care.
“We would not put in a permanent building until we know the outcome of the joint services review. It is a temporary facility. We’re expecting it to last two years.”
The pre-constructed single storey unit, which could open in December or January, would be connected to A&E by a short link corridor, providing a single base for surgical teams now spread across the hospital.
“The unit, similar to the existing A&E observation ward, would manage and treat problems including acute appendicitis, strangulated hernias and perforated stomach ulcers and would take GP referrals. Details are still being finalised with Worcester City Council planners but the unit could consist of 18 cubicles, each containing a trolley or comfortable reclining chair.
The unit would be divided into two halves, one for men and one for women, to meet single sex rules.
The trust has yet to publish the costs of the scheme. However, it is believed the unit will be funded internally but is supported in principle by other parts of the NHS, including the emerging clinical commissioning groups and leaders at NHS Worcestershire, both organisations which pay for services.
Ms Johnson said the move was about improving patient flows through the hospital and followed advice about best practice given by the Royal College of Surgeons concerning ways to deal with surgical emergencies. She said the new system would allow patients to be seen earlier.
The unit would be near to A&E with access to anaesthetics, theatres and the radiology department for CT scans, fitting in with a pilot to provide this service seven days a week.
The system would allow for surgical emergencies that would previously have been admitted to a trolley in A&E to await assessment from the surgical team of doctors and allows patients requiring surgical treatment to be looked after in a dedicated surgical unit.
The scheme will allow the trust to transfer some existing surgical beds to medical beds where the higher demand is and allow the ring-fencing of surgical beds to reduce cancelled operations, trust leaders have said.