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Future Fit: Shropshire A&E review drops plans for rural care units

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No dedicated rural urgent care centres will be built as part of plans to axe an A&E department in Shropshire, a health boss said today.

Artist's impressions of the proposed A&E department if at the Princess Royal Hospital, Telford, top, and the Royal Shrewsbury Hospital, bottom.

Instead, extra services will be bolted onto existing GP surgeries or community hospitals.

Initial plans had suggested the Future Fit NHS review for Shropshire would involve root and branch changes and the closure of one of the county's two A&E units would be mitigated by five additional dedicated urgent care centres serving outlying rural areas.

David Evans, who is in charge of Future Fit, today said it was more important to look at services rather than new buildings.

He said: "I think what is really important is that we look at the service we provide rather than getting hung up on the building.

"So there will be a rural urgent care service delivered but some of that will be at home and some from other facilities.

"I am sure we will have facilities in the market towns as they currently are in relation to community hospitals, but they not might have a specific badge across the door that says urgent care centre but they will be delivering urgent care services.

"Even if you currently look at the way we provide services across Shropshire and Telford & Wrekin, the majority of practices already have a minor injuries service in operation.

"So someone with a minor cut on finger or a strain could go to a GP now and be seen and treated rather than go to a minor injuries unit or A& E and we would continue that."

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Earlier this month the two clinical commissioning groups were split on whether to back proposals to close an A&E department at either Telford's Princess Royal Hospital or Shrewsbury Royal Hospital.

The Shropshire group's members voted not to back the Future Fit strategic outline case, although it was backed by the Telford group.

Mr Evans, who is accountable officer for both Telford & Wrekin and Shropshire Clinical Commissioning groups, insisted the plans were still on track.

He said: "We are still on schedule. We still intend to go out to public consultation in December. We believe we can tie all this together so we can stick to the time line.

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"We will be doing an option appraisal at the end of the summer – September probably. We are starting the impact quality assessment, which is like a risk assessment. That has just started."

Mr Evans said he expected to get backing from the CCGs by the end of this month. He added: "We are talking to GP practices at the moment. We are trying to explain to them strategic outline case is a very high level document and we understand the concerns.

"I am hopeful we will soon be in a position to sign the letter and move to the next stage."

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