Shropshire Star

Future Fit: No progress made on independent review

An independent review into the future of hospital services has still not begun and no one has yet been appointed to take the helm.

Princess Royal Hospital and the Royal Shrewsbury Hospital

The independent review into the Future Fit process has still not made any progress, three months after it was announced that it would take place.

But those behind the review said it is on track to begin next month and that an independent chair will be appointed in the coming weeks.

It is despite health bosses saying they hoped that public consultation on the process should begin in June.

Today, Pam Schrier, a spokeswoman for the Clinical Commissioning Groups which are running Future Fit, said: "The Future Fit independent review is due to commence in June and dates will be confirmed following completion of the procurement process.

"We are in discussion with potential candidates for the independent chair of the CCGs' Joint Committee and hope to confirm details in the next few weeks."

Following the news, NHS Campaigners in Shropshire reiterated their calls for the entire Future Fit process to be scrapped, calling it "fundamentally flawed".

​The Future Fit process – which could see one A&E unit set up at Royal Shrewsbury Hospital and Princess Royal Hospital Telford’s department downgraded – is currently on hold after members of Shropshire and Telford & Wrekin clinical commissioning groups failed to reach a decision on whether to back a recommendation to base a single A&E at RSH, as well as transferring women and children’s services from Telford to the Shrewsbury site.

As a result it is currently being independently reviewed.

On February 8 it was announced that partners are in agreement that work must continue to identify a long-term solution for the challenges faced by local hospitals.

External experts will review the appraisal process carried out so far in developing the long-term options for hospital services in the county.

Health leaders are confident that by carrying out this independent review, it will assure people reassurance that any future changes are based on the best options for patients.

In December, Telford & Wrekin Council began the calls for an independent review after its own analysis showed flaws in the decision making.

The council has put together a report analysing the data used to come to the preferred option and says there are errors in its methodology and assumptions.

Together these have skewed the financial and non-financial assessments in favour of the Royal Shrewsbury Hospital, it says.

Council leader Shaun Davies previously said said consultation should not go ahead until the results of the independent review are announced.

Councillors also unanimously backed taking legal action if plans to create a single A&E unit at Shrewsbury go ahead.

Gill George, chair of Shropshire Defend Our NHS, has called the Future Fit process "fundamentally flawed" and said that recent performance by the hospitals showed the need for two A&E departments.

She was speaking as it was revealed that the independent review into the Future Fit process has still not made any progress, three months after it was announced that it would take place.

Those behind the project say it will begin in June and that they are already in discussion with candidates to chair the review.

Ms George said: "It is clear that the project is in complete and utter chaos.

"The bottom line is that we need both A&E departments and both hospitals.

"This has been reinforced so clearly by the chaos that has been experienced over the winter. There have been 35 red alerts this year, from January 1 to March 12, those are high escalations to NHS England because there is not enough capacity and not enough acute beds.

"We know from patients about the waits on corridors of more than 12 hours. The two A&E departments aren't coping so the idea to cut one will lead to deaths.

"There is an ageing population which is increasing demand, people who are unavoidably sicker who need A&E care and acute beds going forwards.

"I don't think there is anything helpful about the Future Fit process, it is fundamentally flawed with zero credibility and zero public support and it will kill if it goes ahead.

"It is time it was abandoned, the process is like reorganising deckchairs on board the Titanic."