Future Fit will make sense once in place, says health chief
Opponents of Future Fit will “look differently” at it once it has been delivered and they see it as part of wider reforms, a senior health figure has said.
Sir Neil McKay, the independent chairman of the Shropshire, Telford and Wrekin Sustainability and Transformation Partnership, described the controversial reconfiguration as “like our Brexit”, but said it was a mistake to look at it as being purely about hospitals.
He said establishing a “place-based integrated care system” would reduce dependence on the county’s acute hospitals.
Sir Neil was speaking at a meeting of the Shropshire Community Health Trust board.
He explained that the STP is one of 44 in England, and includes NHS trusts, both local authorities, CCGs and Healthwatch organisations, and had the task of planning health strategy.
He said: “There is not an NHS organisation that can deliver its strategic objectives unless it works together with others.”
Sir Neil said, in Shropshire, “our performance as a system is not good enough”, despite having many providers with “good” Care Quality Commission ratings.
“We haven’t yet found the secret of how to draw all that excellence together,” he said.
“We are too dependent on hospitals, and that needs to change.
“Dependence on hospitals is a route to unaffordability.”
Shropshire Community Health Trust chairman Nuala O’Kane said: “We believe in partnership work, and always have done. It’s in our DNA. We’re ready to pick up the gauntlet.”
Non-executive director Harmesh Darbhanga asked Sir Neil what role politics played in his work.
Sir Neil said: “We have to be conscious of the political dimension; use it when we can, but guard against some of its excesses.
“I think Future Fit, which is like our Brexit, hasn’t helped in terms of our relationship, but you get the sense that, if you get this across the line, in the bag, people will look differently at it.
“Future Fit is seen as a hospitals development. It’s not. It’s a catalyst for us to find new ways of giving care.
“You are always going to have political differences, but it’s part of our job to manage that.”
In January, a joint committee of Shropshire and Telford and Wrekin CCGs approved a £320million package of proposals, known as “Future Fit”, which would see the Royal Shrewsbury Hospital house the county’s only full accident and emergency department and the existing A&E at Telford’s Princess Royal Hospital become an urgent care centre.
Following a request from Telford and Wrekin Council, Secretary of State for Health and Social Care Matt Hancock ordered an Independent Reconfiguration Panel to review the decision. Telford and Wrekin Council leader Shaun Davies was among those who gave evidence to it.
At a full council session on September 19, Cllr Davies said: “Despite the Secretary of State having all of the information since the start of August, he still has not made a decision and he’s reluctant to. I wonder why?
“I urge the Health Secretary to make the decision because the people of our town, our borough, deserve to know.”