Future Fit: Work on Shropshire's hospitals could start next year
Work to transform Shropshire's hospital services is likely to begin next year and could take up to six years to complete, health bosses said today.
David Evans, chief officer of Telford & Wrekin Clinical Commissioning Group, has spoken about the next steps for the £312 million Future Fit scheme.
It follows the decision to make Royal Shrewsbury Hospital the site for the county's only emergency centre, with Princess Royal Hospital in Telford taking over responsibility for planned care.
But before building work can begin, Mr Evans says The Shrewsbury and Telford Hospital NHS Trust, which runs the hospitals, must develop outline and full business cases.
This will outline exactly how the cash earmarked for the scheme will be spent.
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It will need to be approved by the trust's board and NHS regulators, but health commissioners say they also intend to set up a group to oversee the project.
Mr Evans said: "I think we will see some of the groundwork taking place towards the end of next year, and completion will be within five to six years.
"It will be phased. The realignment of services will take place over a period of years.
"That is usual in a process like this."
He said the joint committee of Shropshire and Telford & Wrekin Clinical Commissioning Groups had to make a difficult decision on Tuesday but promised it would lead to better services for patients.
Mr Evans said: "I'm pleased after this length of time that we have made a decision and are moving forward."
A suggested timeline, included in the Future Fit decision making business case, shows the first phase of work is expected to include the construction of the new emergency department.
It would also likely include the main entrance and theatres being refurbished at PRH.
But it comes as calls have already been made for Health Secretary Matt Hancock to review the decision.
An emergency meeting of Telford & Wrekin Council has been called on February 18 to discuss taking further action.
The council's leader, Shaun Davies, and Telford MP Lucy Allan have also both written to Mr Hancock.
Mr Evans said: "It's not unusual for a referral to be made to the Secretary of State.
"I'm aware Telford & Wrekin Council is going to do that.
"I'm a little disappointed but I'm not entirely surprised.
"I would hope it could be dealt with in a timely way which didn't mean that we had further delays in the programme.
"That would be my concern. If there were further significant delays the consultants that have come to the trust may choose to go again."