Future Fit: ‘At last, a solution led by staff on front line’ - Mark Pritchard
It is now time to trust the medical experts, says MP for Wrekin Mark Pritchard.
For years the local hospital trust has been indebted and has lacked strategic grip and focus.
It was also previously the case that government ministers, under successive Conservative, Labour and coalition governments, could not help themselves from constantly meddling in local health decisions.
It was a situation that local people rightly claimed had blighted Shropshire’s strained and under-funded health services over many years.
I agree with that analysis.
That is why the Future Fit programme, albeit often clumsy, and certainly very late in reaching its recommendations, has proved to be the antidote to these justified criticisms.
It has been led by more than three hundred local clinicians, doctors and senior nurses.
That means the reconfiguration of local health services has, finally, been driven by medically trained hospital staff – and not by jarring local councillors or remote diktats out of Whitehall.
Local people wanted local health experts to own local health decisions. The Future Fit Programme does that.
Even members of the independent NHS expert review panel, the national body tasked with overseeing changes to local hospital services, have concluded local experts have designed a hospital plan fit for for the 21st Century.
Those panel members say ministers should keep their noses out.
So what do these changes mean to people relying on hospital services locally?
It means patients in Telford & Wrekin will no longer have to travel to Shrewsbury for most surgery.
Telford will become the new centre of excellence for planned surgery with huge investment in staff and high tech equipment. This is good news.
I am also glad the Department of Health has made it clear that Telford’s A&E should be retained with a new state-of-the-art ‘A&E Local’ model.
It incorporates the very latest cutting-edge thinking on how A&E care should be provided.
This involves building on, and providing much more than the previously suggested Urgent Care Centre model.
It means more consultant-led time at Telford. This is good news.
Sadly there are some who want to rubbish local medical staff.
They talk down the hard working staff and the Princess Royal Hospital. They peddle fake news and myths for their own political ends.
But what is indisputable is Shropshire is seeing the biggest investment into the local NHS in the borough and County’s history.
The Princess Royal Hospital in Telford was built in 1988 under a Conservative government.
It is about to see its biggest ever investment and expansion programme since then.
For the first time in my lifetime, a Conservative government is committed to out-spending Labour on the NHS without bankrupting the country in doing so.
This is good news for Telford and Wrekin, Shropshire, and the country as a whole. It is good news.
Of course, there will always be gains and losses – for both Shrewsbury and Telford.
But with a new A&E Local in Telford and with most operations to be centralised in Telford it is very misleading and totally irresponsible for some local councillors to attempt to scare people by suggesting the opposite.
Yes, change can sometimes be disconcerting.
But the majority of the county and the borough’s top doctors support these changes.
It is time to trust the medical experts who spend everyday of every week saving local lives.
It is time to get behind these changes and stop talking down the PRH.