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Health chiefs hits back over Shropshire hospital plan claims

Telford | News | Published:

Health chiefs have hit back at claims that hospital reorganisation in Shropshire will cost lives, insisting that they want to upgrade, rather than downgrade, emergency care.

Princess Royal Hospital, Telford.

Shropshire Defend Our NHS, which is campaigning against concentrating specialist services on one hospital site, has claimed that Shropshire patients suffering a stroke or heart attack would be sent to Stoke for treatment under plans proposed by the Future Fit hospital reorganisation.

In an open letter, campaigners claimed that Dr Caron Morton, accountable officer of Shropshire Clinical Commissioning Group, had said only major emergency centres like those at Stoke or Birmingham would treat conditions like heart attack or stroke, and that the extra travelling time would cost lives.

The initial findings of the doctors, nurses, patients and health professionals working on Future Fit favour one specialist emergency care centres for life-threatening conditions supported by a network of smaller urgent care centres to look after most of the less serious cases which now go to A&E.

In a joint statement, Dr Morton and her counterpart at Telford & Wrekin CCG, David Evans, sought to reassure patients that services would not leave the county.

They said: "We need to make it absolutely clear there are no plans to move any services to Stoke-on-Trent or elsewhere.

"The open letter refers to major emergency centres which were proposed in a national report by Sir Bruce Keogh, the national medical director of NHS England. This national picture is what Caron was discussing at a patient meeting in Powys on June 9.

"However Sir Bruce went to lengths to point out that his report set out principles only, and that detailed solutions would need to reflect local circumstances and wishes.

"The current Future Fit programme is doing exactly that. Local doctors and other health professionals believe one single emergency centre in the area would be the safest way to treat the most seriously ill patients.

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"That would mainly deal with life-threatening illnesses and injuries – including treatment for strokes and heart attacks.

"England has a national emergency care network and some very complex cases will always need to be treated at the most appropriate major regional centre. That has always happened and it will not increase.

"Less serious cases would be supported by a network of local urgent care centres."

Stroke patients from Shropshire and Powys have, for the past year, been treated at just one specialist centre in Telford, with patient recovery rates improving over the same period.

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Joyce Brand, secretary of Shropshire Defend Our NHS, said: "This is an area of over 1000 square miles, with a population of over half a million people.

"Surely this is enough to justify a major emergency unit in Shropshire or Telford and Wrekin?

"We don't think our local NHS leaders can possibly support the plan for Shropshire to just have lower level emergency services."

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