'Weak-kneed decision': Telford Tory leader furious as call for crisis talks on Future Fit is rejected

A request for a crisis council meeting over Shropshire's controversial Future Fit process has been turned down over concerns it will not achieve anything.

Councillor Andrew Eade
Councillor Andrew Eade

Councillor Andrew Eade, Telford’s Conservative leader, wants a brand new accident and emergency centre for Shropshire and asked for an extraordinary meeting of Telford & Wrekin Council to try to win cross-party support.

He wants the idea to be included as a third option in the upcoming Future Fit consultation after seeing a similar arrangement in Northumberland.

But his request has been turned down, prompting Councillor Eade to call it a "weak-kneed decision".

Council speaker Charles Smith said it had already been a long process to identify two options which will be put forward for consultation to decide the future of the county's hospital services.

He added: "It is simply not credible to believe that your proposed motion will achieve anything other than to make the council look out of touch with the decision-making process."

Councillor Smith also said a council meeting was already planned for March 1 and any extraordinary meeting would only be able to take place a couple of weeks beforehand.

But Councillor Eade has called it an "appalling decision".

He added: "The consultation which is about to start must give our community across Shropshire and beyond the choice of a third option to consider and the provision of an emergency care centre which has proved so effective elsewhere.

"It is little more than a gullible and shameful dereliction duty by Telford & Wrekin Council and I can only wonder why they arrived at this weak-kneed decision.

"However, this lack of backbone will not stop the fight to ensure that we establish a first rate and modern health provision for the county."

It comes as Dr Julian Povey, chair of Shropshire Clinical Commissioning Group, and Mark Cheetham, care group medical director at Shrewsbury and Telford Hospital NHS Trust, have both insisted a plan for a new hospital would not work.

The suggestion by Councillor Eade was made after he went on a fact-finding visit to a similar specialist centre in Cramlington, Northumberland.

He says the current proposals will be a “step backwards” and believes residents should be provided with wider options.

He had wanted to put forward a motion asking for councillors to urge health bosses to include an alternative option in the Future Fit consultation based on the model in Northumberland.

Councillor Eade wants a new emergency centre to be located between Telford and Shrewsbury and to retain Telford's Princess Royal Hospital and Shrewsbury Royal Hospital to provide planned surgery and specialisms.

NHS England is yet to give the go-ahead for any public consultation to begin, wanting to know the funding is available.

The preferred option of Shropshire and Telford & Wrekin’s clinical commissioning groups involves a single A&E unit at Royal Shrewsbury Hospital, while planned services would be centred at Telford’s Princess Royal Hospital.

It also involves moving the consultant-led women and children’s unit to Shrewsbury, although Telford would retain a midwife-led unit.

Walk-in urgent care centres would be set up at both RSH and PRH in a reorganisation expected to cost in the region of £300 million.

Councillor Eade believes the option he wants to put forward will save millions of pounds and provide better outcomes for patients.

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