Response to Chaplain David Southall
Please see Save the Alex’s response below to Chaplain David Southall’s recent press statements, blogs and other social media comments, particularly the Worcester News Article (link) and David’s last blog in the Worcester News.
1) Save the Alex’s Agenda
Save the Alex was founded first in 2005 in response to proposals at the time to downgrade maternity and A&E services. Having won that battle we disbanded in 2008. In June 2012 we re-formed when virtually identical proposals were put on the table, a petition was launched
“Before Worcestershire NHS officially open their consultation on Health Services in Worcestershire, we want to make it clear that we do not support any suggestion or proposal that Redditch will lose A&E, Maternity or the Alex Hospital.”
This petition was supported by over 50,000 people from across Redditch, Bromsgrove and South Warwickshire. In August of 2012 a protest march was held, this turned out to be the largest protest march Redditch had ever seen.
We are all volunteers. Some are local businessman, but most are just normal people, residents of Redditch and the surrounding area who are worried about the future of their local hospital services and disagree with the very limited the options proposed and who feel like change is happening without them being properly consulted or informed. Our job is simply to be an amplifier for that public concern.
The view of the public in Redditch and Bromsgrove and surrounding area is clear. They accept change is inevitable but they want to ensure all options have been explored to safeguard local hospital services before that change takes place and that the proposed change is safe and sustainable. As has been proven by the inability of the Worcestershire Royal site to cope this winter and the view of the independent clinical review panel, we were right to challenge the initial options which would have seen a severe downgrade of our hospital which clearly would have overloaded the urgent care system in both Worcestershire and neighbouring Birmingham.
We are a non-political group and enjoy support from a wide range of political parties, although it is fair to say the group has supporters of the two main political parties on its steering committee. Despite accusations to the contrary we have no hidden agenda only to ensure the best possible range of sustainable services are provided at the Alex, no change takes place without all options having been exhausted, there is evidence proper capacity will be in place for both maternity and urgent care and the public’s concerns over transport links and access etc., are answered.
2) How is Save the Alex Funded?
The campaign is funded entirely by donations from local businesses and residents. On top of that there is a lot of kind support offered to us from businesses such as printing, website hosting and web design for free. Our social media is managed by Save the Alex Campaign volunteers who post a wide range of story’s and views good or bad affecting the Alex and the wider NHS.
Members have also put a significant amount of their own money into the campaign. We have received no money from any political party or affiliated group. In the interest of transparency, we should declare we did receive free legal advice from Peter Jewell who is now standing as a candidate in Redditch for UKIP but was unaffiliated at the time.
3) How transparent are we?
Our accounts are available for scrutiny here, on our website and our social media sites allow people to question us on various issues and members are happy to meet anyone to discuss the reconfiguration project. We have met many times with the chairman and chief executive of the Trust, senior members of NHS England and commissioners.
We have held 2 of our own public meetings, and at both members of the campaign including the chair put themselves forward to answer any questions from the public. It is Save the Alex’s intention to hold a further public meeting following the publication of the West Midlands Clinical Senate Report.
Neal Stote Chair of the campaign also sits on a subcommittee of the Future of Acute Services Worcestershire Programme Board,the Public and patient advisory group. Minutes of this groups meetings can be found here.
A simple Google search of “Neal Stote” allows you to see a surprising amount about the group’s chair.
We aren’t hiding anywhere. If you want to scrutinise what we do why not come and have a conversation with us we aren’t hard to find.
4) Who do we represent?
We represent those who support us, Save the Alex have said from day one the campaign is an amplifier for the public’s voice. We have met with 1000,s of members of the public over the past 3 years. We have spent hours at community events, council events, sporting events, on high streets, in shopping centres and at any location or event where we can hear from the public.
We know what the population who are served the Alex are saying and thinking, they support Save the Alex. This is obvious as without widespread public support the campaign has no voice to amplify.
5) What do we say to the claims we are demoralising the staff
We would say it is a nonsense piece of spin and propaganda. We speak to many staff on a regular basis and they are fully supportive of what we do. Indeed staff were extremely grateful for the gesture we made in valentine’s day and many have thanked us personally for what we do.
One told us: “you’ve done more for us than our managers ever have.”
That said there is no denying the current situation is damaging to morale but that’s not Save the Alex’s fault.
There are many other issues that need to be dealt with first that are lowering morale such as frustration with the e-rostering system, short staffing, claims of bullying, the way some Redditch staff feel they are looked down on by their colleagues in Worcester, uncertainty about the Trust’s financial position etc. that need resolving first. To pin the blame solely on STA is lazy and inaccurate.
Save the Alex Campaign Team