Call to press on with Future Fit from Shropshire MPs after 'unacceptable' A&E figures revealed
The number of long delays at Shropshire's A&E departments have been described as 'unacceptable' and has prompted some MPs to call for the controversial Future Fit hospital organisation to press ahead.
Last week, new NHS England figures showed 348 patients waited more than 12 hours on trolleys at Telford's Princess Royal Hospital (PRH) and Royal Shrewsbury Hospital (RSH) in December – ranking the trust the worst in the country.
It compared to just one patient being affected by a wait of more than 12 hours in December 2018, and had risen from 61 in November last year.
Shrewsbury and Telford Hospital NHS Trust (SaTH), which runs the hospitals, says the emergency departments have been dealing with significant demand and staff have been working hard to provide the best possible care.
It comes as SaTH's chairman Ben Reid has called for people to rally behind the current Future Fit proposals to avoid further delays.
He says the problems the trust is facing again this winter "underline the need to drive this project forward, at pace, to ensure we provide the people of Shropshire with the facilities they deserve".
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The plans will see RSH house the county's main emergency centre, with PRH responsible for planned care, although it will also have an 'A&E Local'.
Daniel Kawczynski, MP for Shrewsbury and Atcham, said he is confident A&E performance will improve once the Future Fit reorganisation is complete.
He said: "We've been going round and round The Wrekin on this for the last six years.
"This is a medically driven priority instigated by 300 local doctors and surgeons at the coalface of providing care for patients day in and day out.
"A medically illiterate body with zero qualifications, Telford & Wrekin Council, has held a gun to our heads preventing Future Fit from taking place.
"Telford & Wrekin Council refuses to accept the advice of the doctors. I'm angry and appalled."
Ludlow MP Philip Dunne also wants the planned hospital shake-up to press ahead.
He said: "Nationally the health service has been under a lot of pressure in December across the country.
"Here in Shropshire we've known for many years we have a particular problem in our A&E configuration.
"One of the main reasons I have been advocating we need to get on with the proposed reconfiguration is for investment in our hospitals to improve our A&E facilities and the ability to cope with demand by recruiting more clinicians to work in a properly configured A&E that is fit for purpose."
Responding to the latest A&E statistics, Wrekin MP Mark Pritchard said: "These figures are clearly unacceptable.
"That is why the Future Fit programme has to be got right.
"There are always winter pressures but the Government need to sort out social care as well as ensure additional funding for the local NHS is used wisely and not squandered."
Councillor Andy Burford, Telford & Wrekin Council’s cabinet member for health and social care, called the new figures on 12 hour waits "truly shocking".
“It is clear that a solution needs to be found which involves patients being seen quicker and receiving the appropriate care in a timely fashion," he added.
Peter Nutting, leader of Shropshire Council, said it was vital to find a solution to a "failing system".
He and Telford's and Wrekin Council's leader Shaun Davies have called for a re-think over the Future Fit plans, saying building one major hospital for the county should be considered.
Their comments came after it was revealed that the costs of the Future Fit plan had risen from £312m to almost £500m.
But Dr Julian Povey, chair of Shropshire CCG, said the cost of other options previously considered would also now be more expensive.