Shropshire NHS chief pledges action on services

The boss of the NHS trust that runs Shropshire’s two acute hospitals today insisted he is taking “decisive action” to ensure services are sustainable.

Simon Wright, chief executive of the Shrewsbury and Telford Hospital NHS Trust
Simon Wright, chief executive of the Shrewsbury and Telford Hospital NHS Trust

Simon Wright, chief executive of the Shrewsbury and Telford Hospital NHS Trust, made his comments after the fragility of five services was highlighted at a joint council health overview and scrutiny committee meeting earlier this month.

And he said he was concerned at comments by NHS campaigners that suggested SaTH was not forward-thinking and working with other hospitals to ensure a sustainable future – when it has been working with neighbouring hospitals and other health organisations for many years.

Mr Wright said the report reiterated the fragility of some services at SaTH, which runs the Princess Royal Hospital in Telford and the Royal Shrewsbury Hospital.

It highlighted challenges in the emergency department, ophthalmology, neurology outpatients service, dermatology outpatients service and the spinal service.

The hospital revealed on March 10 that it has stopped taking on new eye patients and that glaucoma surgery has been suspended.

The neurology outpatient service is to close for six months, spine patients are being turned away because of staff sickness and the dermatology outpatient service was described by medics as “fragile”.

Mr Wright said: “I’m disappointed that this was portrayed as a ‘leak’ of a document. The document was not leaked – it was sent by our chief operating officer to the joint health overview and scrutiny committee of Shropshire and Telford & Wrekin Councils as the public have a right to know what steps we are taking with our healthcare commissioners to introduce permanent solutions to services which have been running at risk for over 10 years. The document is also available online.

“These sorts of issues have also been discussed by our board and are the driving force behind our plans to reconfigure hospital services and to work more closely with our GPs.

“We are taking decisive action, together with our partners, to remove these risks and to introduce permanent and sustainable solutions to keep these services here for future generations.

“A crisis only occurs when people ignore situations, would rather talk about it than act and have no answers. We have set out a clear future that will bring state-of-the-art services into our county, protect those already here and encourage health professionals to want to come here to work and live with their families.”

Mr Wright said the trust had always been committed to working with other organisations to provide the best care possible for patients and to ensure as many services as possible remain in the county of Shropshire.

He said the trust’s plans to ensure the sustainability of services would also bring some services back into the county, meaning more patients could be treated closer to home.

Mr Wright said: “Given some of the recent comments in the media, particularly by political activists, it might surprise some people to read that SaTH has been working in partnerships and networks with other hospitals for over 10 years including in Powys, Stoke, Birmingham and Wolverhampton for services such as A&E, surgery, stroke, heart conditions and cancer. As well as this, SaTH has strong partnerships with organisations in our own county, working closely with the Robert Jones and Agnes Hunt Orthopaedic Hospital, Shropdoc, Shropshire Community Health NHS Trust and primary care providers.

“These partnerships see our doctors working with other health professionals to deliver care in rural areas and to bring other clinical specialists into Shropshire and Telford & Wrekin to provide care closer to home for our patients. We already jointly employ consultants with other hospitals in many services.”

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