Shropshire Star

Further attack on Shropshire NHS masterplan

A blueprint for the future of health services in Shropshire has been dismissed as being a "cuts programme" including "all the bad stuff".

Health campaigner Gill George

Gill George, chairman of Shropshire, Telford and Wrekin Defend Our NHS, accused health chiefs of "making things up" by claiming volunteers and communities could fill gaps left by cuts to health and social care.

She made the claims about the county's draft sustainability and transformation plan after both Shropshire and Telford & Wrekin councils attacked the document.

The councils said the report was too vague, lacking the detail needed to provide patients with the information they need.

The draft STP talks of the county having one A&E, preventing health problems and treating people closer to home.

Mrs George said: "There's all the bad stuff we were expecting – the loss of an A&E, the downgrading of a hospital, the move towards long journeys for emergency care and long journeys for planned care.

"There's just no understanding that in an area of over 2,000 square miles and a population of over half a million people, we need two A&Es and two district general hospitals.

"It's a cuts programme. How can that be about better patient care?

"By 2020/21, there will have been £3.8 million cuts to community hospitals, and another £3.8 million cuts to orthopaedic services – which means rationing of hip and knee replacements.

"Then they just make things up – all sorts of bold claims about resilience and communities and volunteers to fill the gaps left by cuts to health and social care.

"Apparently the future is going to be fantastic. But they're not giving us an evidence base for this.

"They're not saying 'how' people will become healthier, and hospital admissions will be avoided.

"We absolutely share the concerns expressed by both our councils.

"The detail isn't there, the money isn't there, and the evidence isn't there.

"This is about making cuts to hospital care, failing to invest in alternatives, and hoping that GPs and volunteers will magically make everything come right."

She added: "The risks are huge.

"As a campaign, we will obviously continue to do everything we can to fight for both our A&Es, both our hospitals, and decent funding for health and social care."

Simon Wright, chief executive of Shrewsbury and Telford Hospital NHS Trust and the lead for the STP, has defended the plans saying "there is a lot to celebrate".

He said: "I really hope people will engage in it. There is lots of place for celebration as we move through the work.

"A lot of positive steps we hope to take to improve the health of the population."

Mr Wright said the STP will benefit from public input.

He added: "We are seeking to really look at changing the way our health, social care and voluntary sector work together. I do not think that is vague. I think it is hugely ambitious.

"We are talking about reducing the amount of money we spend in our hospitals in order to support primary and secondary care properly and I think that is a hugely ambitious change."

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