Shropshire Star

Future Fit: Fears for patients over Shropshire A&E decision delay

A nurse and councillor says she fears for patient safety if a decision over Shropshire's acute hospitals is delayed for much longer.


Tracey Huffer, Shropshire councillor for Ludlow East and a practising nurse, has called for better leadership and communication to be shown by the region's health trusts.

Councillor Huffer says the A&E unit at Royal Shrewsbury Hospital is the closest location for most people in south Shropshire and should be chosen if the county is to have a single emergency centre under the current Future Fit review.

But she said a decision needed to be made to end uncertainty. She said: "It's a big mess and I'm really concerned about patient care. We have the bare minimum of consultants, we are at rock bottom. How are we going to recruit more, to work for a trust where Telford is always arguing with Shrewsbury?"

"Future Fit, I believe, is dead in the water. I'm not surprised at where we are with it but I don't know where they'll go from here.

"No one is taking a lead, no one is talking to each other and it's in a very, very bad place at the moment. We've got to make changes, there's no doubt about it, because the money is not there." Shrewsbury MP Daniel Kawczynski said he was furious that the plans had stalled and said Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt should step in, but Councillor Huffer said she would not go that far.

"I don't think the minister should make the decision, I don't think that's the way to go because it would take it out of public consultation," she said.

"But someone, somewhere has to take a hold of this, because we are in limbo."

The whole process will now go to an independent review before any progress can be made, and Telford & Wrekin Council has pledged legal action if necessary to block changes.

Councillor Huffer wants council leaders to lobby for the local NHS Sustainability and Transformation Plan, which looks at the county's future healthcare needs, to be separate to the Future Fit review of hospital services.

She says this will give a greater emphasis on health delivery in rural areas, adding: "The STP needs a complete rethink and the needs of rural areas must be given special attention. Above all, it is unacceptable to expect people who are ill to travel 32 miles from Ludlow to the Royal Shrewsbury or the 35 miles along difficult roads to the Princess Royal. Long journeys, especially in winter, will create anxiety for people who are already in poor health. Public transport between Ludlow and the hospitals is difficult at the best of times, particularly to the Princes Royal in Telford."

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