Future Fit: Daniel Kawczynski challenges Health Secretary's move to look at plans
Shrewsbury MP Daniel Kawczynski has challenged the Health Secretary over his decision to call in the controversial £318 million Future Fit shake up of hospital services in the county.
Mr Kawczynski voiced concerns about Matt Hancock's decision to 'call in' the proposals to centre Shropshire's emergency services at a single site in Shrewsbury, which had already been approved by the NHS locally.
The plan would also see Telford's Princess Royal Hospital redeveloped to specialise in planned care, although it would retain an urgent care centre which would cater for the majority of services that the existing A&E unit operates.
Mr Kawczynski tabled a question to Mr Hancock in the Commons today, asking him what would happen with the plan now.
Mr Hancock said he had now asked an independent review panel to consider all the evidence.
"We have made the money available," Mr Hancock said. "We have now got to make sure the plans are the best possible for both Shrewsbury and Telford."
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But speaking to the Shropshire Star afterwards, Mr Kawczynski said he was concerned that a review by central government would undermine the work of those in the county who had been entrusted to devise the plan.
He also voiced fears that any future delays would add to the cost of the plan.
"We have been waiting for a long time for the final decision because of the objections from Telford Council," said Mr Kawczynski.
"We just delegated to ensure that the men and women who are at the coal face will take the decisions, but instead of letting them get on with it, it has now been called in.
"I don't think you can have a 'cake and eat it' scenario in this case. You either trust the 300 surgeons and clinicians who have worked on it, or you do not."
Mr Kawczynski said Future Fit had been put through an extremely rigorous scrutiny process over a long period of time, and he could not see what would be achieved by further delay.
He said he was now planning to table a number of parliamentary questions regarding the cost of further delaying the project.
Telford MP Lucy Allan, who backed requests to call the decision in, welcomed Mr Hancock's statement.
"I am delighted to hear the Health Secretary confirm in Parliament that and independent panel will consider all the evidence and the interests of both Shrewsbury and Telford," she said.
Mark Pritchard, MP for The Wrekin, also welcomed news that the decision had been called in.
"Not every major decision on acute hospitals is referred by the Secretary of State for Health to the Independent Reconfiguration Panel, so today's announcement is an important and positive step forwards in getting the flawed Future Fit reconfiguration reviewed," he said.
However, Simon Wright, chief executive at the Shrewsbury and Telford Hospital NHS Trust, warned that any major delays to the Future Fit scheme could result in staff leaving the trust.
Mr Hancock said he expected to be able to process the request quickly enough to avoid any impact, adding that any review and subsequent delay would not jeopardise the funding for Future Fit.
The independent panel has until the end of May to report back on whether a full review is necessary.