'We will never apologise for standing up for the best interests of people': Telford council chiefs call for unity in Shropshire for 'better healthcare'
It is time for Shropshire to unite to make sure people get the health services they deserve, Telford & Wrekin Council bosses have said.
Council chiefs say Future Fit has been dominated by talk of hospital buildings and improving healthcare must be about greater access to GPs and other community health services.
Telford & Wrekin Council leader Shaun Davies and Councillor Andy Burford, cabinet member for health and social care, say they would welcome the opportunity to work with MPs and council colleagues across the county.
Tonight, two motions are due to be tabled in a Telford & Wrekin Council meeting: one calling for a new hospital between Telford and Shrewsbury and the other for a "rapid feasibility study" of alternative options to Future Fit.
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In a statement released today, Councillors Davies and Burford said the council had sought to get the "best deal" for the whole of the county every step of the way in the Future Fit process.
Shrewsbury MP Daniel Kawczynski has blamed the council for causing severe delays to the hospital shake-up plans.
Last year, Telford & Wrekin Council asked Health Secretary Matt Hancock to review the decision to place the county's emergency centre and consultant-led women and children's services in Shrewsbury.
Mr Hancock ruled that the plans could go ahead but with an "A&E Local" in Telford, rather than an urgent care centre.
But in the statement, Councillors Davies and Burford say the referral to the Health Secretary did not delay the process and was in line with the deadlines set by Government for making comments.
They said "The alterations the Secretary of State chose to make to Future Fit following this referral shows the referral was justified.
"To accuse this council of delay is factually incorrect and a disappointing development in approach.
"We have a limited choice but to put the record straight.
"Over the last few years, the council has worked very closely with the Shrewsbury and Telford Hospital NHS Trust to help it overcome its problems, working with the community to refurbish doctors accommodation to help attract junior doctors, opening doors to support the trust to recruit hundreds of nurses from India and by pushing for a much-needed new CT scanner."
They said the costs to deliver Future Fit have "spiralled out of control", calling it a "huge concern".
Watch tonight's Telford & Wrekin Council meeting streamed live from 6pm:
A leaked document revealed last month that the cost of the scheme had risen from £312m to almost £500m.
In the statement, Councillors Davies and Burford added: "In light of this development, people in Telford and Wrekin and Shropshire deserve to know what sort of health service they are going to get.
"This is not just about hospitals, it is about keeping people out of hospital in the first place with better preventative care and greater access to GPs and other community health services.
"It is about ensuring there is money to pay for the social care to reduce demand for hospital services as this provides a much better service for our residents as well as reducing the spending overall for health and care.
"We would very much welcome the opportunity to work with our MPs and council colleagues across the county to make sure that the people we serve get the health service they deserve, both in and out of hospital.
"We will never apologise for standing up for the best interests of people living in, working in and visiting our borough."