FUNDRAISERS for Kidderminster Hospital have requested an urgent meeting with the trust's chief executive over plans to close the ward at weekends.

A proposal to cut the ward's open hours to free up staff and save money was announced in April, and is now in the final stages of approval - a move the hospital trust says will increase the number and type of operations carried out at the site.

Bosses say by providing day case and short stay urology, gynaecology, trauma and orthopaedics procedures at Kidderminster, the hospital will treat an extra 1,400 patients each year and also reduce wait times across the county.

Vicky Morris, chief nursing officer at Worcestershire Acute Hospitals NHS Trust, said: "Kidderminster offers modern operating facilities and ward accommodation which are ideal for patients requiring day case or short stay surgery, and has high levels of patient satisfaction.

“Increasing activity and making better use of the facilities at Kidderminster is something that our staff and local people have been keen to do for some time, and these suggestions have come from them.

“Having spoken to our staff, and because we would aim to increase the activity steadily over a period of several weeks, we could begin to increase theatre utilisation and change the ward opening hours relatively quickly - possibly in the next few weeks.”

The trust previously said open hours on the 24-hour ward would be cut to Monday to Saturday midday, sparking concerns from the hospital’s League of Friends charity, which met on Tuesday to request an urgent meeting with the trust’s chief executive.

A spokesman for the group said: "The Friends have, for a long time, been assured that the trust wants to develop services at Kidderminster and make it an integral part of the county health scene, but these kinds of actions just knock our confidence that this is a true statement.

Ledbury Reporter:

"We've had services taken away from Kidderminster over a long period of time so we have now asked for a senior member of the trust to speak with us as a matter of urgency and tell us exactly what the future holds for services at Kidderminster Hospital.

"We've invested hundreds of thousands of pounds into new equipment at Kidderminster Hospital over the years and we want to know it's going to be used."

Former Wyre Forest MP, Dr Richard Taylor, added: "I'm very disappointed with the plans to close the hospital ward at weekends.

"We thought the idea was to use Kidderminster more to take the pressure off Worcester, but here they are closing the ward at weekends. It's obviously a money saving exercise and it's very disappointing."