Save the Alex Response to Consultants Letter
We all now know the truth behind the resignation of all four A&E Consultants at the Alexandra Hospital and it is so serious and so badly affects the safety of patients, Save the Alex call on the Board to resign and the Trust Development Agency to appoint a new Board.
After the Chairman of Worcestershire Acute Hospitals NHS Trust refused for many weeks to provide the reasons why all four A&E consultants resigned, we now discover that the A&E Consultants wanted their reasons made public.
The details were revealed in the resignation letter penned by the departing A&E consultants Richard Morrell, Sarah Crawford, Chris Hetherington and David Gemmell and published by the Trust on its website (http://www.worcsacute.nhs.uk/news/update-from-the-board/) after a FoI was made by the Save the Alex campaign group. (FoI request detail can be found below)
The A&E Consultants said in their letter of 24 February 2015:
“We are happy for this letter to be released in its entirety (not selected extracts) to the media and any interested parties, and feel that in light of the public concern that it should be released immediately.”
Therefore we consider the Chairman to be untrustworthy and he should resign as he is unfit to hold public office.
The A&E consultants raised very serious issues including that they were concerned for patient safety and accuse the Medical Director of threatening to damage the hospital if they did not support the changes at the Alex. They said:
“The Medical Director has stated that if we do not support modified option 1 the Alexandra Hospital would ‘wither on the vine'”
This could also reasonably be construed as a threat to the careers of these Consultants.
Most importantly, all four of the A&E Consultants claim that their concerns for patient safety and those of external experts about patient safety were ignored by the Trust’s management.
“…even when these experts have suggested that this model poses staffing, sustainability and safety concerns, the Trust’s response has suggested that these experts are misguided.”
“It was very obvious to us all that we were being heard but not listened to. This is despite us raising serious safety concerns about the Trust’s plans and the inevitable knock-on effect it would have on the existing severe overcrowding at Worcestershire Royal Hospital.”
“The Trust appears to tolerate massive overcrowding in the county’s A&E Departments. This is a disgrace and a patient safety issue which causes serious harm to many patients and intolerable stress on all A&E staff.”
The A&E Consultants claim that they were being forced to support the proposed service model, withdraw their concerns, and implement it regardless of those concerns:
“The final straw for us came on Day 4 of the West Midlands Clinical Senate. This day was put in place to explore concerns raised by the majority of the countywide A&E team concerning modified option 1. Prior to the meeting we were presented with an agenda for the day stating the expected outcome was for A&E Consultants to support the proposed model, rescind concerns for patient safety and determine the implementation status of the model.”
The A&E Consultants further claim the Trust had made a raft of changes and planned to make further changes without public consultation, which we understand is required by law:
“Furthermore, we discovered the Trust had written additional plans to reduce the already proposed skeletal surgical service in modified option 1 to the point where all surgical in-patient services at the Alexandra Hospital would be removed in April of this year without any public consultation. The plan was officially circulated to us at the West Midlands Clinical Senate meeting and presented as having clinical support. This plan had been agreed without the knowledge of key stakeholders at the Alexandra Hospital, ourselves included. Medicine and Urology Consultants saw the surgical plan only 3 days before the senate meeting following a leak and raised serious written objections to both the Trust and Clinical Senate. Trust management seemed more interested in finding out how the Clinical Senate had obtained copies of their letters of concern rather than addressing the serious concerns raised. It is still unclear whether this last minute submission was within the remit of the reconfiguration or whether it was in effect the Trust expressing its intention to downgrade the Alexandra Hospital irrespective of the West Midlands Clinical Senate outcome.”
The A&E Consultants also claim that they made repeated warnings to management and that no attempt was made to ask them to stay which implies the Trust wanted the service to fail and the Trust ignored the warnings about patient safety and the failure to consult the public:
“Our intended departure should not have come as a surprise to the Trust; the Medical Director was warned about the high level of discontent amongst us on the 8th October 2014 and again on December 19th. He was warned twice that he could lose up to 50% of his county A&E consultants.”
“Our resignations were accepted by the Trust with no effort made to convince us to stay.”
We have previously raised a number of issues concerning the governance failures of the Trust and the media have widely reported the culture of fear that operates in the Trust. The independent report, by Mr Gary Walker DipM, MBA, a former NHS Trust Chief Executive, published yesterday ( link here), confirmed our view that the Trust Board is unable to manage the Trust and should resign. We now have a failure to address a wide range of patient safety concerns and the Board must now consider their position to be untenable.
They are unfit to lead this Trust and must resign. We call on the Trust Development Agency and the Secretary of State for Health to intervene to protect patients and staff.
Save the Alex Campaign Team
FoI Request Detail Sent 9th March 2015
I would like to request the following information under the Freedom of Information Act.
Background to Request
During a meeting of Worcestershire County Council HOSC on the 3rd March Councillor Pat Witherspoon asked a direct question to WAHT representatives regarding the resignations of the 5 A&E consultants on the 13 February 2015.
The question centred on why the A&E consultants resigned and on the existence of a letter the 5 consultants had sent to WAHT detailing their reasons for resigning. It was also stated by Councillor Witherspoon she believed the consultants had no issues in this letter being made public.
Penny Venables did not deny the existence of such a letter, and in fact when challenged further said WAHT would have no issues if the consultants made their letter public. This response confirmed such a letter does exist and I can see no reason why if WAHT have no problem with the consultants putting the letter into the public domain why WAHT have so far failed to do so themselves.
The information I request is simple and clearly in the public interest –
1) I request the letter written by the 5 consultants detailing why they resigned on 13th of February 2015, the same letter which WAHT’s CEO Penny Venables has not denied exits.
I hope for a quick response given this one simple request for information.
Chair of Save the Alex Campaign