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'An absolute catastrophe': Furious reaction to news that Telford A&E will be downgraded under Future Fit

By Mat Growcott | Telford | Health | Published:

Furious Telford councillors and health campaigners have reacted to the news that the town's A&E will be downgraded.

It was announced late last night that health secretary Matt Hancock had confirmed that Future Fit plans moving emergency care to Shrewsbury would go ahead.

Telford will instead get an 'A&E Local', although it is currently unclear what that will entail.

The news came after years of debate and campaigning over Shropshire's hospital services. Under the changes, Telford's Princess Royal Hospital would be responsible for planned care and both hospitals would have urgent care centres.

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The Independent Reconfiguration Panel interviewed health bosses, clinicians, council officials and other interested groups in July before making its recommendations to Mr Hancock.

In a letter to Telford & Wrekin Council leader Shaun Davies, Mr Hancock confirmed he had accepted the panel's advice that said: "The new model of hospital care should be implemented, and that the emergency care centre is better located at the RSH.

"The urgent care model should enable as much clinically appropriate care to be delivered at the PRH as possible."

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This morning people have taken to Twitter to voice their anger at the move.

But Conservative MPs and bosses at the hospital have welcomed the news.

Katrina Gilman, Labour parliamentary candidate for Telford, said: “This is yet another broken promise from our discredited Tory MPs who promised to save the A&E and improve services at the Princess Royal Hospital for the people of Telford and the Wrekin.

“I have discussed the Future Fit recommendation at length with Labour’s Shadow Health Secretary Jon Ashworth and he has committed to rejecting this proposal.

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“In the week that the Tories claimed to be the party of the NHS, it’s clear that only a Labour government will stop the closure of our A&E and Women & Children’s centre.”

Councillor Shana Roberts, Liberal Democrat parliamentary candidate for Telford, said: "Despite claims that Matt Hancock would swoop in and save our NHS, it is evident now, that all Mr Hancock has done is hammer the nail in harder.

"Telford deserves better.

"No one should have to make a choice that compromises their healthcare and puts loved ones lives at risk."

'Disastrous'

Councillor Peter Scott, mayor of Newport, said: "Very disappointed with the Future Fit decision.

"As I have always said Newport will be more disadvantaged than most. This decision will make life difficult for many. Just don't have a serious illness or go into labour in rush hour or peak times."

Councillor Robert Cadman, parish councillor for Priorslee, said: "Very disappointed by the Govt’s Future Fit response.

"Afraid they’ve called this one wrong. Telford and the surrounding area have been massively let down."

Councillor Thomas Janke, of Newport, said: "Our local Conservative MPs have failed Telford & Wrekin constitutes.

"Over promised and under delivered regarding our A&E and maternity facilities.

"Whilst having the audacity to push for a no deal Brexit unpinning future financial issues and recruitment from the EU."

Nicola Lowery, chairwoman of the Telford Conservative Association, said she was disappointed, but that it was important that the decision was clinically led.

"I am extremely disappointed by the Independent Reconfiguration Panel’s advice as I believe there is clinical evidence to support the emergency care centre being located at Telford & Wrekin under the Future Fit proposal," she said. "However, this is a clinically led and independently determined recommendation and I’m encouraged to see that the Health Secretary has requested further advice on implementing an A&E Local. The A&E Local model has not been formally defined by NHS England and from previous discussions with the Health Secretary on this, it is likely to involve increased A&E consultant services which would ensure that patients are still able to receive treatment and access many of the services they do now. It’s imperative that as a community we secure the best healthcare services possible to ensure that the £312m hospital investment for our hospitals improves our current delivery of services and meets the clinical need in Telford and across Shropshire.

“It’s important that these decisions are clinically led and I Iook forward to the Health Secretary providing more specific details on the services proposed by NHS England on the new A&E Local model so we can fully understand what healthcare services will be available within our communities.”

Gill George, Chair of Shropshire, Telford and Wrekin Defend Our NHS said: "It is an absolute catastrophe for local people if Future Fit goes ahead.

"The challenge to Future Fit has to continue, alongside a commitment to challenge every cut and fight for every service. There also has to be a political dimension to this. Councillors and MPs in our area know fine well that our local NHS is disastrously underfunded. They know too that Future Fit is about worse healthcare for local people. Let’s see them call this out; let’s see them condemn Future Fit for the disastrous cuts package it is."

Joy Jones, Newtown health campaigner and councillor, said: "It was fantastic to hear the news last night that the secretary of state has upheld the decision that the A&E should be located in Shrewsbury. This is extremely welcome news.

"We have been waiting month on tenterhooks wondering what would be the outcome for this review, so it’s fantastic to now know the result.

"This will be a great relief to patients and people living in Mid Wales as every second counts when you need to get to A&E in an emergency. It will also make it so much easier for patients needing to use women’s and children’s services with them being located back in Shrewsbury.

"After many many years of debate and hard work it is now it is vital that this whole transformation move on quickly to bring an end to all these years of uncertainly that have made it extremely hard for patients and the NHS staff."

Elsewhere, Mark Pritchard, Wrekin MP, welcomed the additional funding coming to Shropshire under the move, while Telford MP Lucy Allan said the formation of an 'A&E Local' at Telford's Princess Royal Hospital may be a 'much needed step forward'.

Mr Pritchard tweeted criticising the reaction from Labour.

"Labour politicians need to graciously admit Shropshire is witnessing the biggest single investment in the local NHS - £312M," he said.

"If Communist Corbyn is elected he will ruin the economy with the consequence of less money for local hospitals, schools & policing."

He said: "This decision has been taken by medical practitioners locally and nationally and after extensive work and not by Ministers. Saving the A&E Local is a welcome and new development and will be far better than even the urgent care centre. Labour politicians need to stop rubbishing local medical staff and get behind the largest single investment into the NHS in the county's and borough's history.

"Telford patients will no longer have to travel to Shrewsbury for the vast majority of surgery. That is good news. I think the move of the Women and Children's unit is a flawed decision and still might not happen. It has been mooted before but never happened despite all the local scare stories. I will fight any threat to remove it. Local clinicians might eventually do a u-turn. There are gains and losses for both hospitals - but Telford will be given more than what was even imagined just six months ago. This is a time to back local medical staff not rubbish them"

'Sorry saga'

Ms Allan said: "As a community, we have all been working to ensure that the £312m hospital investment program for Shropshire hospitals meets Telford’s needs. We are a rapidly growing new town, remote from other population centres, with poor connectivity. We also have areas of significant deprivation. Of course we need an A&E. I am grateful to the Health Secretary for working closely with us to achieve this.

"As a community, we have been hugely concerned by the ‘Future Fit’ plans and wholly opposed to them.

“The A&E local for PRH announced today may be the much needed step forward in this sorry saga. The Government has provided the funding, but the hospital management seems unable to work out how to spend it in a way that delivers better hospital services for our area.

“Without having seen any details of the new A&E local for PRH, it’s not clear what services will be delivered. However, I am pleased the Health Secretary has confirmed Telford’s Princess Royal has been given the green light to establish its own A&E Local and my constituents will not have to travel to Shrewsbury to access A&E.

“The Health Secretary expects a report back from NHS England with more details of the new A&E local within a month. We all want to know what A&E services the new A&E Local will provide at the Princess Royal and when this will be introduced.

“Until we see the detail of the A&E Local, the community remains wholly opposed to the Hospital Trust’s current plans. However, I understand the Future Fit plans cannot proceed until the A&E local plans are finalised.

“We will continue to fight together to ensure Telford’s health needs are met and not ignored by local health bosses.”

'Better care'

Hospital chiefs said the decision was "fantastic news".

Paula Clark, Chief Executive at SaTH, said: “This is great news for our Trust, but most importantly for the patients we serve across the whole of Shropshire, Telford & Wrekin and Mid Wales and for our staff, who have been waiting for this decision for many long years.

“The Independent Reconfiguration Panel visited the county to speak not only to our clinicians, but also to those who have objected to the plans, and they have made it clear that the proposals that have been put forward should go ahead without further delay. That was the unanimous verdict of all members of the panel.”

Mr Andrew Tapp, Medical Director for the Hospitals Transformation Programme at SaTH, said: “This is great news and means we can now move forward to provide better care for our patients who require emergency treatment and planned operations.

“Our hospitals serve more than half a million people and we owe it to them to provide the very best services possible. The reconfiguration of PRH and RSH will allow us to address the difficulties created by our current clinical set up and estate and resolve the continuing problems of staffing and recruitment.

“There is still a long way to go, and our Hospitals Transformation Team will be working hard with clinical and estates teams across the Trust to make sure we get the best possible outcome from the huge investment in our health service in Shropshire, Telford and Wrekin.”

Dr Ed Rysdale, an A&E Consultant at SaTH, said: “This is excellent news and I am excited about getting further involved in the re-design. It’s about making sure we create the right services for our patients – this means having a first class emergency department and planned care facilities.

“The reconfiguration plans have been clinically led from the start and the time has now come for us to get on and do it.”

Dr Chris Mowatt, Consultant Anaesthesia and Intensive Care Foundation Year One Training Programme Director, said: “The vision, very clearly, is two thriving hospitals which work for everyone. This will mean changes on both sites but it should not be seen as bolstering one at the expense of the other.

“Creating improved provision for planned care means that patients are more likely to get the operations they need, on time and organised in a smooth, efficient way. Reconfiguring services to streamline care will help patients know what to expect and create better hospitals as we move towards the future.

“The doctors, nurses and hospital management that have worked on Future Fit live and work in communities served by the Royal Shrewsbury and Princess Royal hospitals. It matters to all of us that we have a good local NHS and that we make things better for everyone wherever they live.”

Nurse Ruth Smith, who leads Patient Experience at SaTH, said: “Having specialist emergency care consolidated and delivered at a single site to treat acutely ill and injured patients will ensure that clinicians with specialist skills are available to meet the needs of patients.

“The decision will have a positive impact upon improving patient outcomes and experience as we will now be able to provide a safer, kinder and more effective service at the time this is needed most.

“This is a great opportunity to work together with patients, their carers and the community in a collaborative approach to the development of services to ensure that they are planned around the needs of the patient.”

Mr Mark Cheetham, Consultant Surgeon at SaTH, said: “The future model of care has clear advantages, it will provide better care and better results for our patients – and ensure that our two hospitals can continue to serve the people of Shropshire, Telford & Wrekin and mid Wales for a long time to come.

“It is now time to put past issues behind us and work with the people of Telford & Wrekin, and all other interested parties, to develop urgent care services at PRH.”

Mat Growcott

By Mat Growcott
Reporter - @MGrowcott_Star

Shropshire Star reporter

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