Future Fit: Call to move 'A&E local' from Telford to Shrewsbury under plan
The government is being asked to keep Shropshire's consultant- led women & children's unit at Telford's Princess Royal Hospital and to consider the controversial "A&E Local" for Shrewsbury instead of Telford.
Telford & Wrekin Council said it is asking the Health Secretary Matt Hancock if he has looked at alternative plans for the county's major hospitals – Princess Royal Hospital (PRH), and Royal Shrewsbury Hospital (RSH).
It is the latest development in the ongoing row over the future of the hospitals, which are managed by Shrewsbury & Telford Hospital NHS Trust (SaTH).
In a statement the council said it wanted to know if the Future Fit proposal for the hospitals could effectively be reversed – with Telford becoming home to the senior A&E, and keeping its consultant-led women & children's services.
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The spokesman said: "The council continues to actively explore the best way of protecting local hospital services including a full 24 hour full A&E and a consultant-led women and children unit.
"The Secretary of State’s decision on November 5 has raised a number of further questions which could impact on any judicial review decision and we are seeking further answers from the Secretary of State.
"We want to know if full consideration has been given to whether the A&E Local model now proposed can be extended to ensure that women & children’s unit can remain at PRH and whether or not a local A&E would suffice at the RSH."
The suggestion effectively turns the Future Fit plan on its head.
Under the current arrangement – which has been approved and given the green light by Mr Hancock – RSH will have the county's only full 24-hour A&E, and will also take over consultant women & children's services, which would switch from Telford to Shrewsbury.
PRH would become the county's centre for planned care, and would also have an 'A&E Local' – a reduced version of A&E only open for 'core hours', expected to be 12 daytime hours.
The development follows a Telford resident instructing solicitors to look at a legal challenge to Future Fit, after Conservative Lucy Allan, who is seeking re-election as the town's MP, used a crowd-funding site to raise the money for the case.
She has urged the council to back the legal challenge.
"There is no government currently as there is a general election campaign. The council knows this is a decision for SaTH, who are being uncompromising," she said.
"This is why we need a legal challenge. I would like to see T&W Council support the legal challenge to give Telford more leverage in this process. We must have better A&E at both hospitals. Full 12-hour, consultant-led day time A&E is a shift by the trust as we have put them under pressure to agree to this.
"We also have extended 24/7 walk in but of course we all want to keep women and children’s centre. The council must get behind the legal challenge to help community win this fight."
A spokesman for the council has said: "The council is in contact with solicitors instructed by a resident to look at a judicial review and we propose to work closely with them, including sharing relevant documents."
Telford & Wrekin Council leader Shaun Davies said the best move would be for Future Fit to be scrapped altogether.
He said: “The simple fact is if the next government scrapped Future Fit there would be no need for expensive legal challenges.
"Labour has committed, if elected, Future Fit would be scrapped – and our NHS would be fully funded. The Conservatives have been clear they plan to press ahead with the downgrading our A&E and closing our consultant-led women and children unit."