Future Fit: No decision yet but Health Secretary 'hopes to have progress soon'
The Health Secretary is yet to make his mind up over whether the Future Fit decision should be reviewed but 'hopes to have progress soon', Telford's MP has said.
Matt Hancock has written to Lucy Allan to tell her he is 'carefully considering all the evidence available' after receiving recommendations from a panel that interviewed health bosses, clinicians, council officials and other interested groups in July.
It has been almost eight months since health commissioners rubber-stamped plans for Royal Shrewsbury Hospital to be the base for Shropshire's only emergency centre.
The move means Telford's Princess Royal Hospital would be responsible for planned care, but Telford & Wrekin Council has challenged the decision by asking for a review.
Ms Allan welcomed the update from the Health Secretary and confirmation the Independent Reconfiguration Panel has completed its review.
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She added: "The Health Secretary said he hopes to have progress soon which will be very welcome.
"The Future Fit plan which never considered Telford’s needs, was conceived by hospital management so long ago that it must now be obsolete.
"The proposal must be revisited to take account of Telford’s needs which continue to grow and the changes within the trust.
"With no permanent chief executive in post and the trust still in special measures, it is clear Future Fit cannot simply be given the green light hence the delay.
"This is a record amount of funding – £312m – and the trust must show it can use this money to ensure Telford’s health needs and outcomes will be addressed."
In his letter, Mr Hancock said since Shrewsbury and Telford Hospital NHS Trust had been placed in special measures last year, it has been receiving 'increased oversight and enhanced support' from NHS England and NHS Improvement and a quality intensive support director had been appointed.
The Future Fit scheme has been at the centre of controversy for years, with campaigners holding marches, protests and organising petitions.
The proposals were approved by Shropshire and Telford & Wrekin clinical commissioning groups in January.
Telford & Wrekin Council made the referral to the Secretary of State in March because it believes that Future Fit is not in the best interests of patients.
The authority also says that the consultation with the joint scrutiny committee was ‘inadequate’.
However, the scheme has been hailed by health bosses who say Future Fit will lead to better conditions, top facilities and will make it easier to recruit the staff needed, reducing the need for agency workers.
Clinicians have also commented that separating emergency and planned care will bring other benefits, such as fewer planned operations having to be cancelled.
For more information visit nhsfuturefit.org