Future Fit: What happens next?

The question people are now asking is – what happens next with Future Fit?

While the announcement made this week is definitive, there is still plenty to debate before bricks and mortar are brought in and patients start seeing any changes.

While it may appear that the Secretary of State for Health, Matt Hancock’s backing for the independent panel recommendations will see work begin in earnest, the reality is that it may take some time yet before anything tangible happens.

That means more talking in boardrooms, more jargon-filled reports to meetings, more red tape to try to cut through.

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The next stage is for Shrewsbury & Telford Hospital NHS Trust, which manages both Royal Shrewsbury Hospital and Telford’s Princess Royal Hospital, to develop what is called an ‘outline business case’ for the changes.

This will detail how the £312 million allocated from the government will be spent to bring about the changes put forward as part of Future Fit.

Following that outline case the trust will then develop the full business case before the project can fully proceed.

And then there comes the planning applications for any physical changes made to RSH and PRH in order to accommodate the changes.

Despite these administrative hurdles still to clear, it is apparent that the news from the Secretary of State is a landmark moment for the proposal, with potentially only a legal challenge in the form of a judicial review now open to opponents of the scheme.

One potential spanner in the works was contained in Mr Hancock’s confirmation of the go-ahead for the plans. In line with a recommendation from the independent panel NHS England has now been tasked with looking at how the urgent care centre plan for PRH could be developed to be an ‘A&E Local’.

Mr Hancock has given NHS England one month to report back on the request, meaning that any delay will be minimal compared to the six years it has taken to reach this point.

Future Fit has taken a huge step forward – but the journey ahead remains significant.

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