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Patients 'lied to over times' REDDITCH: Hospital boss blows whistle on health chiefs.

Byline: By Emma Cullwick

A ROW has erupted after a hospital manager accused health chiefs of lying about waiting times to patients at a Redditch hospital in a bid to avoid huge fines.

In 2004, all three of Worcestershire's primary care trusts (PCTs) signed a pounds 26 million contract with a Canadian firm - tying them into a deal which would see 9,000 hip, bone and knee operations performed privately at the Kidderminster Independent Treatment Centre.

However, at the time of striking the deal, health watchdogs expressed concern, saying the PCTs could find it difficult to refer enough patients to the company, in which case they would incur huge fines.

Now, Jo Harper, general manager in surgical specialities at the Alexandra Hospital in Redditch, claims chiefs at Redditch and Bromsgrove PCT are telling patients they will have to wait six months for surgery at the Alex, so instead should be treated at Kidderminster. She says that the wait at the Alex is actually four months.

Ms Harper claims the aim of the alleged lie is to make up the figures so enough people are treated at Kidderminster, saving the PCT from being fined.

The accusation has been vehemently denied by Redditch and Bromsgrove PCT

Ms Harper insisted, however: "We've heard the PCT is doing this from several sources, including GPs who are being encouraged to tell patients that waiting times at the Alex are longer than they really are."

She said it was particularly concerning as health chiefs were proposing to axe a host of services at the Alex in a bid to save pounds 20 million. She fears less people being treated there will lead to more threats of closure.

But Dave Kendall, corporate services officer at Redditch and Bromsgrove PCT, strongly denied the accusations.

"We definitely do not lie to people about waiting times," he said.

"We offer people a choice of places for treatment and allow them to make a decision."

Neal Stote, chairman of the Save the Alex campaign group, said: "If patients are being lied to how can we trust health bosses?

"We go to our GP when we are ill and we trust we are being told the truth about the best possible treatment appropriate for us, not what would be convenient to manipulate figures."
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Publication:Birmingham Mail (England)
Date:Apr 3, 2006
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