Emergency changes scheduled to inpatient paediatric services from September
Paediatric inpatient services at Alexandra Hospital moved to Worcestershire Royal Hospital under emergency measures taken by the trust. The emergency changes mean that for the vast majority of children there will be no change to where they receive their care.
Only those children who have a life threatening condition, need to stay overnight in hospital or need to see a specialist paediatrician, now see their care delivered at the Worcestershire Royal Hospital.
Dr Andrew Short, the trust’s Interim Chief Medical Officer and senior Consultant Paediatrician said:
“This is not a decision we have taken lightly and we recognise that this will for some be a cause of concern. Safety is our top priority and I would like to reassure the public that we are making these temporary changes so that we can ensure the highest levels of care for children.
“Our consultants over many months have continued to work additional shifts to cover vacant junior doctor rotas to keep the paediatric inpatient service going on both sites. This is no longer sustainable. The national shortage of doctors coming through training for paediatric posts, means that many trusts have vacant junior doctor posts.
"In addition, despite an active recruitment campaign, we have been unable to attract doctors to fill the vacant posts left as a result of the junior doctor shortage. This presents a significant issue for the trust in providing specialist paediatric doctor inpatient 24/7 cover on two sites. This has now reached a critical point and the Trust regrettably has to take the difficult decision to temporarily move to centralise inpatient paediatric beds on to one site at Worcestershire Royal Hospital.”
The Alexandra Hospital continues to see and treat children with minor illnesses and minor injuries and who do not need an overnight stay. Children who are seriously ill attend via ambulance or are referred by their GP no longer come to Alexandra Hospital. They will be seen and assessed by expert paediatric teams at Worcestershire Royal. Many of these will still return home but for those requiring an overnight stay in hospital they will be admitted to the dedicated 35 bed facility at Worcestershire Royal.
Dr Short added: “We have made sure that we have enough beds on our dedicated specialist children’s ward at Worcestershire Royal to ensure to meet the needs of the children of Worcestershire. This means that we have the beds available for any child needing to stay in hospital overnight and transferred under this temporary arrangement. In addition, by all of our clinical teams being available on one site, children will be seen and treated quickly by senior paediatric staff.
"Over the coming weeks we will be working to ensure local people are aware of this temporary change. NHS 111, the ambulance service and GPs will be able to support anyone concerned about a child’s condition, with parents encouraged to take sick children who might need a hospital bed to Worcestershire Royal Hospital. However, should a child be brought into A&E at Alexandra Hospital and need to see a paediatrician they will be taken by ambulance to Worcestershire Royal Hospital.”
Dr Richard Davies, speaking on behalf of Worcestershire's three Clinical Commissioning Groups, said:
“We have known for some time that the paediatric service has been fragile at Alexandra Hospital but we had hoped that the trust could keep it going until the public consultation on the acute services review had taken place. However, this is no longer possible. We have a responsibility to commission safe and secure services and the shortage of staff means it would be unsafe to continue with the current arrangements.
“The trust’s decision to temporarily transfer inpatient paediatric care is therefore understandable and reasonable. Staff have worked tremendously hard over past months to keep both the Children’s wards going at both hospital sites and we would like to thank them for going above and beyond what would normally be expected of them."