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Future Fit: Mixed views from MPs

By Lisa O'Brien | Health | Published:

The decision for Royal Shrewsbury Hospital to host the county's only emergency centre has divided opinion among MPs in Shropshire and Mid Wales.

And campaigners have called the outcome of the Future Fit process a 'sham', holding on to hopes that Health Secretary Matt Hancock will intervene and derail the whole process.

Wrekin MP Mark Pritchard and Telford MP Lucy Allan have backed calls for a judicial review and intervention from the Government.

It comes as Telford and Wrekin Conservative Group leader, Councillor Andrew Eade demanded Health Secretary Matt Hancock steps in.

Mr Pritchard called it "a deeply flawed decision".

Ms Allan says she has written to the Health Secretary to ask him to call in the decision for review and to invite him to Telford at the earliest opportunity.

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She said: "All the borough’s elected representatives are united in opposing this decision. It’s important that we work together to get it overturned.

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“The needs of Telford and Wrekin residents have been neglected. Throughout the five year process, management and local decision makers have not engaged with the local perspective or the impact that the changes would have made.

"The failure to engage with the Telford perspective or the needs of our community has been be fatal to this project."

Gill George, chair of Shropshire and Telford & Wrekin Defend Our NHS, said Tuesday's decision making meeting was a 'sham' and the decision was made without public consent.

She says the 'funding crisis' in the NHS must be sorted and the county needs to keep both its A&Es, with more investment needed in community services.

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She said: "The outcome here is no victory for Shropshire people either, because what we are talking about is the biggest cuts project we have ever seen in the local health service.

"It's actually about fewer nurses, fewer doctors, worse care and worse access to care. That's bad for all of us, but obviously the particular fear at this moment in time is for those in Telford and Wrekin who face longer ambulance journeys to reach emergency care.

"That will put lives at risk.

"For a majority of time critical conditions the key to a good outcome is speed. It's about getting treatment quickly. With Future Fit, people in parts of the county will face longer journeys to access care.

"Time delays will lead to some people having a greatly increased risk of life-long disability and other people facing death."

She says she is in favour of the decision being reviewed by the Health Secretary, adding: "I would be very optimistic indeed that that's enough to see Future Fit finished off.

"I hope that referral goes forward. I'm very confident it will and I hope it has cross-party support."

Elsewhere in the county, the decision has been welcomed.

Skills

North Shropshire MP Owen Paterson said it was great news for his constituents.

He said: "Securing £312m for Future Fit will deliver state-of-the-art facilities, attract the very best practitioners, bring back skills into Shropshire and provide the best possible care for the whole area. "

Shrewsbury and Atcham MP Daniel Kawczynski now hopes that political bickering can be put to one side.

He said: "The people who have made this decision are charged with the wellbeing and efficiency of the healthcare proficiency in the county. I still think there should be one clinical commissioning group for the county rather than two but that is a different matter.

"The fact that both of the CCGs have come to an agreement recognises just how medically sound the proposals have been. The doctors and surgeons who have been involved in this have been at the forefront of this proposal and it has not been driven by government or politicians, but by the people at the coalface."

Mr Kawczynski said that members of Telford & Wrekin Council, in particular its leader Shaun Davies, should now accept the situation and allow progress to be made.

But Councillor Davies, along with others, have called an emergency meeting of Telford & Wrekin Council to take forward plans to ask the Health Secretary to review the decision.

The meeting has now been scheduled to take place at Oakengates Theatre in Telford on February 18 from 6pm.

Glyn Davies, MP for Montgomeryshire, said he welcomed the decision but is now wary about campaigners taking further action to try and derail the scheme.

He said: "The issue that's now important is how we deal with an attempt of a judicial review.

"I'm putting celebrations on hold until I see diggers in the ground.

"I think there will be efforts to try and have the decision reviewed and we can't afford to have any delay."

Ludlow MP Philip Dunne has also welcomed the decision.

He said: “The historic decision now allows for the largest ever capital investment in the Shropshire healthcare to proceed – which is welcome news for both patients and those working in the NHS locally.

"I regret some political parties are seeking to politicise this decision, and are even campaigning to strike down this biggest investment in healthcare facilities Shropshire has ever seen.

"I and other Shropshire MPs met local NHS leaders on Friday, who made abundantly clear further material delay to this project would risk clinicians moving elsewhere and exacerbate recruitment and retention problems, ultimately hindering delivery of the best possible care.

"Instead, we have seen that even the news of record capital investment has encouraged more clinicians to come and work in Shropshire – with 24 new consultants joining the Shrewsbury and Telford Hospital NHS Trust in 2018, double the normal recruitment of this senior level of clinicians. So it is important we proceed.

"I have been reassured by clinicians and NHS leaders, including the chief executive of West Midlands Ambulance Service whom I met last Friday, that conveying patients by ambulance to an improved A&E department at RSH will not increase patient risk. Those of my constituents who live near Telford will still be able to be treated at the urgent care centre for conditions that do not need a blue light ambulance.”

Health bosses say the decision will allow specialist doctors to treat the most serious cases on the emergency care site, which they say is proven to be safer, provide better results for patients and reduce the amount of time people have to stay in hospital.

It is also expected to mean fewer operations will have to be cancelled.

Health chiefs have denied the process is about cuts and say patient safety is the priority.

Tuesday's meeting, where a unanimous decision was made by the joint committee of Shropshire and Telford & Wrekin's Clinical Commissioning Groups, was told that there will be a change to the mixture of roles in the workforce.

The Shrewsbury and Telford Hospital NHS Trust says it expects there will be a reduction in admin roles, but working practices will be constantly reviewed, and there are no plans for redundancies.

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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