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Future Fit: Health Secretary challenged to 'stop sitting on fence'

By Dominic Robertson | Shrewsbury | Health | Published: | Last Updated:

The Secretary of State for Health has been challenged to "stop sitting on the fence" and make a decision over Future Fit.

Matt Hancock

The call comes from Shaun Davies, Labour leader of Telford & Wrekin Council.

Currently Matt Hancock, the Secretary of State for Health, is assessing information from an Independent Review Panel before taking a decision on whether the Future Fit plans should go ahead.

The proposals, which have proved divisive across Shropshire, would see Royal Shrewsbury Hospital become home to the county's only A&E department.

Consultant led women and children's services will also move from Princess Royal Hospital (PRH) in Telford, to the Shrewsbury hospital.

PRH would then become the centre for planned care in the county.

The plans were approved by local health bosses but have been challenged by Telford & Wrekin Council, which called on the Health Secretary to review the proposal and throw them out.

The review has taken place and Mr Hancock has received advice but no decision has yet been made.

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Councillor Davies said: “The whole community is waiting to hear whether Future Fit will go ahead or not because this will have very serious implications for the borough and east Shropshire.

“The Secretary of State has all the information he needs to make a decision on a referral we made nearly six months ago.

“Clinicians and the populations of the borough and everyone for whom the Princess Royal is their hospital deserve to know. We cannot continue with more uncertainty. People will question – why the delay?

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“I urge the Secretary of State to stop sitting on the fence and make your decision, for you now have all the information. A Cabinet minister’s job is to make difficult decisions, so please do so.”

The request from Telford & Wrekin Council came in March this year, with the authority arguing that Future Fit is not in the best interests of the health service in the area.

The Health Secretary then asked an Independent Review Panel (IRP) to look into it further.

During a visit the IRP spoke with Councillor Davies.

A spokesman for Telford & Wrekin Council said: "The IRP was told the plans will not transform the whole system of healthcare and are not backed up by sufficient investment in out of hospital care. Councillor Davies also said that the needs of Telford, being the fastest growing town in the region and having a clear clinical need for the women and children’s centre, were not sufficiently taken into account by Future Fit."

A Department of Health and Social Care spokesman said: “We have received advice from the independent panel which the Secretary of State is considering before responding in due course.”

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