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Fears overnight A&E closure could be on the horizon for Telford

By Lisa O'Brien | Telford | Health | Published:

Health bosses say they do not want to suspend services but claim it would be "irresponsible and dangerous" not to have robust plans in place.

The A&E at Princess Royal Hospital in Telford

The leader of Telford & Wrekin Council says he is concerned that plans to close Princess Royal Hospital's A&E overnight are being stepped up and could happen from September.

Councillor Shaun Davies says he has seen a letter handed to emergency staff outlining Shrewsbury and Telford Hospital NHS Trust's (SaTH) continuity plans.

He says he has also spoken to staff who have been asked to get involved in drafting plans for a possible temporary overnight closure.

SaTH previously agreed a plan to temporarily close A&E at PRH overnight if services become unsustainable.

Health bosses say business plans have been under constant review to ensure that, should it happen, there is as little impact as possible on patients.

They have stressed that no decision has yet been made to suspend services.

The A&E at Princess Royal Hospital in Telford

But Councillor Davies says he has been told that papers are due to go before SaTH's trust board at a meeting next month, explaining the risks of keeping both A&E departments in Telford and Shrewsbury open.

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He said: "Staff are telling me that they've been briefed, but also the way in which they are being briefed, I'm being told that they are being given briefing notes, they are being ordered to give those briefing notes back at the end of the meeting.

"I'm being told by staff, by more than one source, that although the document says no decision has been made, actually here's your early heads up."

Timing

Councillor Davies said to do this in the middle of the Future Fit consultation was "dangerous" and people already believe that plans to downgrade Telford's A&E are a "done deal".

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He added: "Half way through the consultation this is happening. Why are they working up details of a contingency plan right now?

"The timing couldn't be worse because it underlines that issue of pre-determination that many people feel."

He said he was also concerned about what would happen to the women and children's centre at PRH if SaTH activates its contingency plan.

The trust has recently been successful in the recruitment of additional consultants in A&E, but SaTH says there are still staffing challenges.

Health bosses say they do not want to suspend services but claim it would be "irresponsible and dangerous" not to have robust plans in place to ensure the continued safe and dignified treatment of patients.

Future Fit will determine which hospitals house which services.

Through a public consultation, currently under way, people are being asked if they want to see a single emergency centre for the county based at RSH or PRH and how any decision would affect them.

Under the £312 million plans, the other site would take on responsibility for planned care.

There would also be an urgent care centre based at each hospital.

The next public exhibition event, where people can talk to clinicians and find out more, takes place on Wednesday at Bridgnorth Leisure Centre between 3.30pm and 7.30pm.

Lisa O'Brien

By Lisa O'Brien
Senior Reporter - @lisaobrien_Star

Senior reporter based at Shropshire Star's head office in Ketley. Covering the Telford area.

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