Talks to avoid Shropshire A&E closure as consultant set to leave post

Shropshire health chiefs are in discussions to avoid temporarily closing one of the county's A&E after revealing that the loss of a consultant could trigger a "tipping point" for safe services.

Talks to avoid Shropshire A&E closure as consultant set to leave post

The trust which manages the county's major hospitals is reviewing its plans in the wake of the news that one of its emergency department consultants will be leaving their post in December.

Shrewsbury and Telford Hospitals NHS Trust, responsible for A&E services at Princess Royal Hospital Telford and Royal Shrewsbury Hospital, has previously held discussions with patient groups to warn that "irretrievable" gaps in staffing could lead to a temporary or overnight closure of one of its emergency departments.

The trust has confirmed that the loss of the consultant could push it past a tipping point but said it is not yet prepared to comment on how it will deal with the issue.

Debbie Kadum, chief operating officer at SATH, said: "The trust undertook an extensive service continuity exercise some months ago, which included both clinicians and members of the public. This exercise explored the 'tipping point' at which our emergency departments would no longer able to run safely and effectively. It also fully explored the plans that would need to be in place to continue to support the community that we serve.

"The trust is developing plans to mitigate the recent announcement that one of our emergency department consultants will be leaving us in the near future. This process is on-going so it would not yet be appropriate to comment on those plans, however we can assure the community that our first priority is the continuing safe and dignified treatment of our patients."

Mrs Kadum said the situation highlights the "fragility" of the service, and alluded to the need to carry out Future Fit plans for one county emergency department.

She said: "We are really thankful for the hard work and support of all of our staff in maintaining our services. However, the imminent loss of one consultant and the impact that will have does highlight the fragility of the service and why we, with our partners, are working hard to ensure we can make long-term and planned strategic changes to keep our patients safe."

Last month David Sandbach, the former chief executive of the Princess Royal Hospital in Telford, called on members of the trust board to close one of its sites - either at the PRH or the Royal Shrewsbury Hospital - saying it is unsafe for patients to run two A&E departments with the current levels.

Mr Sandbach said: "The trust authorities are sailing far too close to the wind. There is no way they can honestly say this service is any longer a safe service.

"I have asked the trust board to consider patient safety on a number of occasions, in my opinion they should close an A&E department as an emergency measure."

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