Over 40 Worcestershire acute beds not ready by winter

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Sir David Nicholson
Image caption,
Sir David Nicholson has insisted he was the right man for the job

New acute beds to relieve pressure on Worcestershire's hospitals will not be in place ahead of next winter, an NHS trust said.

Work to put 46 beds in refurbished wards at the Worcestershire Royal got the go-ahead from the Department of Health on Monday.

The approval came after an £8m business case was signed off.

Worcestershire Acute Hospitals trust said the two wards of acute beds will not be ready until the end of January.

The trust remains in special measures and a third ward of 23 beds is not expected to be ready until the end of March.

Board chairman Sir David Nicholson, the former head of NHS England, said: "We cannot have another winter like the last one."

Other board members expressed concern the winter plan was "superficial" with the potential for less space for patients medically fit for discharge.

Sir David said he was the right man for the job, despite concerns about his role in the Stafford Hospital scandal when he was head of the West Midlands health authority.

The former Stafford Hospital was the subject of a public inquiry after a higher than expected number of deaths between 2005 to 2008.

Sir David said: "I have two young children who were both born at the Worcestershire Royal Hospital... I have a vested interest in making them the best they can be.

"I don't think I'm a panic signing at all. I have 40 years of experience of running health services."

The Worcestershire NHS trust runs the Worcestershire Royal, Kidderminster Hospital and Treatment Centre, and Alexandra Hospital in Redditch.

In February paramedics were sent to the Worcestershire Royal after 10 ambulances were left waiting for almost three hours to hand over patients.

At the time the hospitals trust said: "The weekend has been very busy."

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