Future Fit: Shropshire hospitals trust realised rise in cost 'after scheme was reviewed'
The trust running Shropshire's two major hospitals was not able to review the cost of Future Fit until it took control of the project, its chairman has said.
A leaked document outlining the business case for the hospital shake-up scheme showed the cost of the original plans have risen from £312 million to almost £500 million.
Inflation and other adjustments have caused this figure to rise significantly, but people have questioned why the cost rise had not been recognised earlier.
The project, which was previously in the hands of the Shropshire and Telford & Wrekin Clinical Commissioning Groups, was signed off by a joint committee in January last year, following a public consultation in 2018.
It has since been tweaked by Health Secretary Matt Hancock, who ruled the county's main emergency centre would be based in Shrewsbury as planned, but Telford is to have an 'A&E Local' instead of an urgent care centre.
Ben Reid, chairman of The Shrewsbury and Telford Hospital NHS Trust, told a meeting of its board on Thursday that it had not been able to carry out a review of the plans until after the scheme was put into its hands.
- More than 30 extra nurses from India could join Shropshire's A&Es
- New Shropshire hospitals boss to start on Monday
- Shropshire maternity scandal: Jeremy Hunt calls for fresh inquiry as hospital chairman announces new scrutiny panel to be set up
As a result, he said it came about that the cost of the scheme had risen, although did not disclose any figures.
He said: "Certainly here, we were not keeping a running tab of any cost changes in the system.
"That is not a game we were told we were involved in."
Mr Reid said the trust had put forward proposals that would allow it to do "what the consultation settled on as an option".
Questions over the development of health services in the community were also raised after a report to the board from the quality and safety committee said: "At a time of extreme pressure on hospital services, there is little evidence of community schemes developing that are credible, timely and impactful."
Gill George, chair of Shropshire, Telford and Wrekin Defend Our NHS, said Future Fit depended on those services being in place and something that had been a concern is now, at this stage, "a crisis".
In response, Mr Reid said: "In that Future Fit document there is a commitment in providing improved community support.
"The team are currently exploring with the system as to how they are going to satisfy that.
"The system will have to get an appropriate response on that for us to get approval for Future Fit."
The Future Fit plans also involve moving consultant-led women and children's services to Shrewsbury and making Princess Royal Hospital in Telford the centre for planned care.