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Future Fit: Health Secretary will be asked to step in over decision

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

Calls for action have been made following the controversial decision by health bosses surrounding the future of the county's hospital services.

An emergency meeting of Telford & Wrekin Council could be held to discuss whether the Health Secretary should be asked to intervene following the decision on Future Fit.

The leader of the council, Shaun Davies, says the decision to choose Royal Shrewsbury Hospital to host the county's emergency centre was 'deeply flawed'.

Councillor Davies, cabinet colleagues and members of the health overview and scrutiny committee have requested an emergency meeting of Telford & Wrekin Council.

If approved, the council will be asked to call on Health Secretary Matt Hancock to review the decision.

Meanwhile, Telford and Wrekin Conservative Group leader, Councillor Andrew Eade, has called for a judicial review over the decision and is being supported by Wrekin MP Mark Pritchard.

Mr Pritchard claims the consultation process was 'very rushed towards the end'.

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He added: "I think this may have overlooked vital demographic and sociological data, which will have a material impact on the hospital bosses flawed decision."

Earlier Telford MP Lucy Allan said she too would ask the Health Secretary to intervene over the decision.

The Future Fit meeting at Harper Adams University

She said: "Local hospital management are set to impose their plan for the future of our Princess Royal Hospital, against the wishes of residents, at a public meeting tonight. Every one of Telford’s elected representatives are completely opposed to this plan.

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"With £312m of taxpayers’ money to spend on improving Shropshire’s hospital care, it ought to be possible for local hospital management to make a case from a Telford perspective, as to how residents could benefit. They won’t - they will only say that if Telford’s new Women and Children’s centre and our emergency care both move to Shrewsbury - ‘the wider population’ will benefit.

"The failure to engage with the Telford perspective or the needs of our community will be fatal to this chaotic project. Once the decision is made, the Health Secretary can intervene at the request of the local Council. I have written to Matt Hancock today asking him to act on any such request from Telford & Wrekin Council."

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Councillor Nicola Lowery, chairman of the Telford Conservative Association and borough councillor for the Ironbridge Gorge said tonight: “I am deeply disappointed by the decision by the Joint CCGs who have formally supported the recommendation for the Royal Shrewsbury Hospital to be the preferred location for Shropshire’s emergency care centre.

“In response to the public consultation Future Fit received a significant number of responses with 18,742 completed surveys and 203 letters from the public with 51 per cent of the 18,742 surveys received from the Telford & Wrekin area.

“Whilst this vote was never intended nor positioned to be a referendum, it confirmed the level of public feeling and identified many legitimate concerns on Option 1, emergency care, planned care, maternity and children services and transport that have still to be fully considered and addressed.

Regret

“The community has delivered its verdict on the proposed future of our health care in Shropshire that provides compelling and substantive evidence to support the emergency site being based at the Princess Royal Hospital and I express my sincerest and profoundest regret that the views within our community were not heeded by Future Fit.

“Now that a decision has been made, the Health Secretary can review this decision and I am working with our MP for Telford Lucy Allan to ensure that a review on the decision can be progressed forward”.

Councillor Davies said the decision made by a joint committee of Shropshire and Telford & Wrekin Clinical Commissioning Groups made no sense.

He said: “How can it make sense to back an option that would mean the NHS having to borrow £62 million more when our preference can deliver the same services for everybody in Telford and Wrekin, Shropshire and Mid Wales but for far less cost.

“How can it make sense to ignore the views of the majority of people in Future Fit’s own consultation – almost two thirds of whom don’t support the chosen option?

“How can it make sense to move the women and children’s centre away from Telford when it was there because of clinical need at a cost of £28 million just four years ago?

'Crazy'

“This crazy decision must be stopped. Over many years we have asked various health secretaries to step in and they have refused to do so.

"By referring it to the Secretary of State for Health in this legal way it would force the issue onto his desk and he will have to intervene.

“The Government can no longer shirk its responsibilities by saying it’s a local decision. The Government would be writing the cheque for the loan to pay for the downgrade of Telford’s A&E department and the closure of its consultant-led women and children’s centre.

“I trust the council will support the referral of this deeply flawed decision, which will harm health services in our borough and much further.

“The Government would then make the final decision and ensure that common sense wins."

A motion would be proposed by Councillor Andy Burford, co-chair of the joint health overview and scrutiny committee, and seconded by Councillor Davies.

It states: "This council is of the opinion that this decision has not been properly consulted upon and is not in the interests of the health services in Telford & Wrekin.

"Accordingly this council should formally report this decision to the Secretary of State and ask for him to review the decision of the joint committee in accordance with the powers contained in the Local Authority (Public Health, Health and Wellbeing Boards and Health Scrutiny) Regulations 2013.

"Council is asked to agree to this referral and delegate the submission of the referral to the managing director in consultation with the leader.”

If approved, a date will be set for the emergency meeting later this month.

Full statement from Telford & Wrekin Council:

The Leader of Telford & Wrekin Council is requesting an Emergency General Meeting to consider whether to refer the way that the future of hospital services in the area are being decided to the Health Secretary.

If approved the Council will ask Rt Hon Matt Hancock to intervene over the decision

On 29 January Shropshire and Telford & Wrekin Clinical Commissioning Groups (CCGs), who decide on and pay for health services in their areas, backed plans to have emergency care in Shrewsbury. While this was the preferred option of the NHS decision making process called Future Fit, it was overwhelmingly rejected by the public during consultation last year.

Under the plans backed by the CCGs, the Royal Shrewsbury Hospital would be the main 24/7 A&E hospital for the area and, as a result, it would also have to be the base for the Women & Children’s Centre which is currently in Telford, opening as a brand new centre only four years ago at the Princess Royal Hospital, at a cost of £28 million.

Under the changes planned operations would take place at the Princess Royal Hospital.

The Council’s leader Cllr Shaun Davies, cabinet colleagues and members of the Health Overview and Scrutiny Committee are requesting the EGM to secure the support needed for the Council to refer the CCGs’ decision to the Health Secretary to ensure that this is reviewed further.

Cllr Davies said: “Future Fit had two options and the CCGs have meekly followed what they have been told to do, despite this decision, in so many ways, making no sense.

“How can it make sense to back an option that would mean the NHS having to borrow £62 million more when our preference can deliver the same services for everybody in Telford and Wrekin, Shropshire and mid Wales but for far less cost.

“How can it make sense to ignore the views of the majority of people in Future Fit’s own consultation - almost two thirds of whom don’t support the chosen option?

“How can it make sense to move the Women & Children’s Centre away from Telford when it was there because of clinical need at a cost of £28 million just four years ago?

“This crazy decision must be stopped. Over many years we have asked various Health Secretaries to step in and they have refused to do so. By referring it to the Secretary of State for Health in this legal way it would force the issue onto his desk and he will have to intervene.

“The Government can no longer shirk its responsibilities by saying it’s a local decision. The Government would be writing the cheque for the loan to pay for the downgrade of Telford’s A&E department and the closure of its consultant led Women and Children’s Centre.

“I trust the Council will support the referral of this deeply flawed decision, which will harm health services in our borough and much further.

“The Government would then make the final decision and ensure that common sense wins.”

The motion proposed by Cllr Andy Burford, co-Chair of the Joint Health Overview and Scrutiny Committee and to be seconded by Cllr Shaun Davies states:

“This Council is disappointed by the decision of the Joint Committee of Telford & Wrekin and Shropshire Clinical Commissioning Groups on 29 January 2019 to proceed with recommendations contained in the Decision-Making Business Plan. This is the wrong decision for the people of Telford & Wrekin. This Council is of the opinion that this decision has not been properly consulted upon and is not in the interests of the health services in Telford & Wrekin.

Accordingly this Council should formally report this decision to the Secretary of State and ask for him to review the decision of the Joint Committee in accordance with the powers contained in the Local Authority (Public Health, Health and Wellbeing Boards and Health Scrutiny) Regulations 2013.

Council is asked to agree to this referral and delegate the submission of the referral to the Managing Director in consultation with the Leader.”

If approved, a date will be set for the EGM later this month.

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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