A FORMER health boss has been appointed as new the chairman of the group reviewing the future of hospital services in Worcestershire.

Former chairman of NHS West Mercia cluster of Primary Care Trusts Joanna Newton has been made independent chairman of the Future of Acute Hospital Services in Worcestershire programme.

She is taking over from NHS England's director of operations and delivery David Williams, who has been leading the project on an interim basis.

She said she was excited to join the programme.

"For the first time there is a clear clinical way forward for acute services in the county and I feel we have a real chance of ensuring that Worcestershire’s acute services can be clinically and financially sustainable for many years to come," she said.

"I’ve been involved with the NHS locally in Worcestershire and I ‘m looking forward to my part in this programme.”

Earlier this year the group presented its long-awaited report into hospital services in the county, which recommended vital services are centralised at Worcestershire Royal Hospital but the A&E department at Redditch's Alexandra Hospital should remain open.

Mr William's welcomed the appointment of his replacement.

“We are at a stage where it is now right for NHS England to take a step back and to return to its primary function of scrutinising the project," he said.

"Responsibility for the project rests with the three clinical commissioning groups and they will be pushing it forward under the chairmanship of Joanna.

"We are lucky to have secured someone of Joanna’s experience and expertise as chair of the programme going forward.”