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Single hospital plan for Shropshire dismissed in favour of Future Fit plan

By Dominic Robertson | Shrewsbury | Health | Published:

A single site hospital for Shropshire has been dismissed after it was revealed it would cost almost £1 billion to build.

Royal Shrewsbury Hospital where Shropshire's only A&E will be under Future Fit plans

Instead, an NHS official has called for Future Fit plans for Royal Shrewsbury Hospital and Princess Royal Hospital Telford to go ahead “as soon as possible”.

Sir Neil McKay, chairman of the county’s sustainability and transformation partnership, said officials are focused on starting building work.

He also revealed that discussions are ongoing with NHS about the £533m funding for the existing plans, a figure which has increased by £134m due to inflation since a decision was taken to go ahead with the plan.

The proposal will see Royal Shrewsbury Hospital become the county’s main A&E department, and also home to consultant-led women & children’s services.

PRH will become a centre for planned care and would have a scaled-down ‘A&E Local’ under government plans.

Sir Neil says they hope to have the business case for the project – a vital stage in allowing it to go ahead – approved by the start of 2022, with major work starting “soon afterwards”.

In a letter to Shrewsbury MP, Daniel Kawczynski, he said: "We expect the final business case approval will be no later than the beginning of 2022 with building underway in earnest soon afterwards.

"We are looking at what construction can begin before then and we will have further discussions including with the local authorities to see what can be done."

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It does mean that the major work on the long-awaited project is not likely to get underway for more than a year and a half at least.

Sir Neil has dismissed the calls for a reconsideration of the proposals, in favour of a new single site, suggesting that in terms of finance, and having to go back and consult again with the public, there is no merit to the option.

He said: "The revised cost for these options would be in the region of £900m at least, plus a concomitant significant additional annual revenue requirement.

"There is no indication whatever that a capital allocation of this amount would be forthcoming which, even if it were, would be unaffordable from an annual revenue perspective.

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"If we add to the issue of unaffordability, the fact that the pursuit of a single site option would inevitably result in the need of a further round of public consultation, then taking all things together I hope you can appreciate why we do not believe there is merit in pursuing a single site option."

Sir Neil said that they now want to proceed with the proposal "as soon as possible".

He said: "The programme has been the subject of an extensive period of development. We are determined to do all we can to start building work as soon as possible.

"The need for the benefits of the programme is now accentuated by the imperative to plan our services to take account of Covid.

"Earlier this year there was some discussion about looking again at the option for a single site. Whilst I understand some of the reasons for this, we believe it is as impractical now as when this option was assessed in 2014."

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