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No overnight closure for Telford A&E – despite failure to recruit key consultant

By Dominic Robertson | Telford | Health | Published:

Telford’s A&E department will not be forced to close overnight – despite a failure to recruit a vital consultant.

The hospital had put in place a contingency plan to close the unit overnight if a skilled medic was not recruited by today.

But it now says there are no current plans for a closure at Princess Royal Hospital, despite the deadline being missed.

Simon Wright, chief executive of Shrewsbury and Telford Hospitals, said steps are being put in place to protect the service.

SaTH has been trying to recruit a replacement for the key position but Mr Wright said it is now “working closely” with the NHS to find a solution.

He added: “There are currently no plans for an overnight closure of the accident and emergency department at the Princess Royal Hospital.

“There has been some interest from consultants following our most recent recruitment campaign and we will continue with every effort to recruit more staff. “We are working closely with NHS Improvement and Health Education England to find solutions which will avoid the need for any overnight closure.

"We will also continue to review our business continuity plans to ensure the safe running of our accident and emergency departments at both of our hospitals for both our patients and our staff.”

'Slippery slope'

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Last month it was revealed that the trust was preparing for the possibility of closing the A&E overnight because of the resignation of a consultant.

Telford & Wrekin Council said it had seen a letter from NHS Improvement that warned unless a new locum consultant was recruited by today it would likely result in the overnight closure of PRH due to safety concerns.

Council leader Shaun Davies had warned that an overnight closure would be the “slippery slope” towards downgrading PRH.

Councillor Davies has now called for the trust to tell the public what the risks of operating the hospital are without the consultant.

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He said: “SaTH owes it to the community of Telford and Wrekin to explain the risks to services at PRH.

“They have long said they were one resignation away from overnight closure. This resignation has now taken place. As public servants SaTH need to inform residents and tax payers of the future of our services and what they are doing to maintain patient safety, and why such warnings have been made before.”

Mr Wright offered his thanks to staff who he said “work above and beyond” to care for patients.

He said: “I would like to thank our staff in these departments, who continue to work above and beyond to provide our patients with the best treatment possible in these difficult conditions.”

Speaking in February when the situation was revealed Neil Nisbet, deputy chief executive of SaTH, said: “One of our emergency department consultants recently announced his intention to leave the trust and we are now actively trying to recruit to this position.

“As we have previously discussed, however, it is vital that contingencies are put in place should the continued safe, effective and dignified running of these services become unsustainable and therefore we are reviewing our emergency department business continuity plan.”

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