Redditch hospital protesters' fears over new Royal building

Save the Alex campaign in Redditch Last month, about 1,500 protesters took part in a rally against the possible closure of the unit

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Campaigners against a possible closure of an A&E unit have said they fear plans for a new building at a nearby hospital means it will definitely shut.

The trust that runs the Worcestershire Royal Hospital has applied for planning permission for a temporary building, which it said was for a surgical unit.

But protesters said they feared it was preparing to take patients from the A&E unit at Redditch Alexandra Hospital.

The trust said it would just help free up beds at the Royal.

Last month, about 1,500 protesters took part in a rally against the possible closure of the unit and also maternity services at the Alexandra.

The Worcestershire Acute Hospitals NHS Trust (WAHT) is proposing to close the units as part of an attempt to save £50m by 2015.

Rebecca Blake, Labour Parliamentary candidate for Redditch, said she wanted to know if the Royal was already struggling with patient numbers and whether it would be able to cope if emergency cases were transferred there from the Alexandra.

'Come clean'

She said she would be meeting with the trust's chief executive this week about the development plans.

She added: "We want them to come clean.

"Are they acknowledging there is a capacity issue already or are they making plans where they say no decision has been taken?"

In a statement, the trust said the development had been approved by the primary care trust earlier this year and would help it cope with increased demand, particularly over the winter months.

It added: "This development will allow us to transfer some of our existing surgical beds to medical beds where we are seeing the higher demand.

"It will also allow the ring-fencing of surgical beds to reduce cancelled operations."

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