Telford A&E Local plans a 'fudge', says campaigner
Plans to base an 'A&E Local' at Princess Royal Hospital in Telford have been described as a "fudge" and "an attempt to buy off public opposition".
Campaign group Shropshire Defend our NHS has dismissed the proposals, from the Health Secretary, and said the issue will be key during next month's election.
Gill George, Chair of Shropshire, Telford and Wrekin Defend Our NHS, said: "Matt Hancock might claim that the A&E ‘will remain open’ – but it won’t be in any recognisable form.
"This is just a fudge, an attempt to buy off public opposition. It’s also incredibly dangerous. Most members of the public believe – from the TV and from their own personal experience – that A&Es are open 24/7 and can treat you or your loved one for pretty much any serious condition.
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"So what happens when someone turns up during the night with a critically ill baby and the A&E Local isn’t open at all? The trouble with this kind of games playing is that it puts lives at risk.
"Despite the hype from Matt Hancock, this underlines the extent of the Future Fit attack on hospital care for Telford and Wrekin people. The loss of a full A&E; the loss of the Women’s and Children’s Centre; and the downgrading of the hospital to a Planned Care Centre.
"People are appalled by Matt Hancock’s decision to nod through Future Fit cuts and closures. And yes, of course this will be a key election issue in the coming weeks."
Earlier this week NHS England wrote to the Health Secretary, Matt Hancock, confirming what services would be provided in an 'A&E Local' at Princess Royal Hospital (PRH), Telford.
In their letter, Professor Stephen Powis, national medical director for NHS England and NHS Improvement, and Pauline Philip, the organisation's national director of emergency and elective care, said PRH will continue to provide A&E services.
They write: "This model means PRH will continue to provide A&E services. We are satisfied that this meets the proposed A&E Local model outlined above and will work with SaTH (Shrewsbury & Telford Hospital Trust) and their partners in the development of the model and a timeline for implementation."
The request to make PRH an A&E Local came from Mr Hancock after he decided to press ahead with the Future Fit reorganisation of the county's major hospitals, PRH and Royal Shrewsbury Hospital (RSH).
Under the Future Fit plan Royal Shrewsbury Hospital becomes home to the county's main A&E and consultant-led women and children's services, which are currently based at PRH.
The latest proposal for PRH to be an 'A&E Local' would be an upgrade on the previous Future Fit plan for the hospital to become an 'Urgent Care Centre'.
But it will only be open for "core hours", and would only deal with emergency ambulance cases such as 'low risk chest pain', pneumonia, DVT or cellulitis.
The hospital would have an emergency medical consultant for "defined hours" but ambulances would take seriously ill patients elsewhere for treatment, and seriously ill 'walk in' patients would be stabilised before being transferred to "an appropriate facility".
The changes also mean that plan for consultant-led women & children's services to move to Shrewsbury from Telford would go ahead.