Hospital chiefs issue wish list to keep Telford A&E open
Hospital chiefs in Shropshire today spelled out the minimum number of extra doctors and nurses it would need in the short term to avoid closing Telford's Accident & Emergency department overnight.
Last week, the board of Shrewsbury and Telford Hospital NHS Trust (SaTH) voted to close Telford's A&E for at least six months at night from November due to staffing issues.
Campaigners have been calling for the Government to step in with a 'rescue plan'.
This afternoon, SaTH said it could keep both A&E services open in the short-term if it had a minimum of seven additional level middle grade doctors, increasing staffing from 11 to 18.
The hospitals would also need a minimum of 15 more registered A&E nurses.
The trust insists it remains committed to recruiting to its emergency departments. It says A&E units at PRH and Royal Shrewsbury Hospital could both be kept open 24 hours a day in the 'short-term' if it could meet those numbers.
Doctor Kevin Eardley, medical director for unscheduled care at SaTH, said: "We would be delighted to work with anyone who can help us find the staff we would all like to see here.”
The closure of A&E in Telford will mean patients needing urgent attention will have to travel to Shrewsbury, Wolverhampton or Stoke.
NHS campaigners say that will put people in danger and also cause more delays at the hospitals taking up the slack.
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This week a letter addressed to Health Secretary Matt Hancock was handed in at the Conservative Party conference in Birmingham on behalf of Shropshire Defend Our NHS.
It says the trust is facing a 'massive crisis' and has asked him to intervene.
Speaking about the decision to close Telford's A&E overnight, it says: "This will create a healthcare desert in Telford between 8pm and 8am, with no local access to emergency or urgent care.
"The urgent care centre already closes at 8pm, and the GP out-of-hours service has been sharply cut. People are frightened about what’s happening.
"It’s not just an issue for Telford. The board’s plan is that ambulance patients will be diverted to Wolverhampton or Stoke.
"The configuration of services means this will affect patients across Powys and Shropshire too – around 540,000 people across a vast area of over 2,000 square miles.
"Lives are at risk if patients with time critical conditions have to travel from Powys or South Shropshire to Wolverhampton."
It says that children face 'fragmented and unsafe care' and that an overnight closure is 'grotesquely unsafe'.
The group claims 'hospital leaders have lost their way', adding: "We have lost confidence in the chief executive and the medical director because they have failed to ensure patient safety, and they are unable to acknowledge this.
"We are asking you to intervene. Without change, the lives of our families, our friends, and our communities will increasingly be at risk."
The group claims there is a short-term solution.
The letter continued: "We spoke to a senior doctor for ideas and advice.
"He thought that an immediate short-term plan, between now and the end of the year, would be to work with the Royal College of Emergency Medicine to identify any emergency medicine doctors who would be available – for example, by working through their holidays or returning briefly from retirement – who could keep the service going.
"They are there. It would not be an ideal arrangement – but would be safer than closure. This would also require identification of the remuneration required to make it worth their while.
"The medium-term solution relies on Health Education England. HEE could seek to allocate more trainees to SaTH.
"HEE also has a strong recent record of locating and supporting overseas doctors into NHS work."
It said the longer-term solution lies with SaTH.