Government still committed to Future Fit, says minister

A health minister has assured an MP that the Government remains committed to a controversial £312 million shake-up of Shropshire's hospitals.

Edward Argar told Daniel Kawczynski, MP for Shrewsbury and Atcham, that the Government would continue to support the Future Fit scheme, which would see emergency services centred on Royal Shrewsbury Hospital, and Telford's Princess Royal Hospital becoming a centre for planned care.

Mr Kawczynski had tabled a written question to Health Secretary Matt Hancock asking him to ensure the sceme went ahead.

Mr Argar replied that the Government continued to support Shrewsbury and Telford Hospital NHS Trust in its efforts to progress the Shropshire Future Fit scheme.

He said, as with any capital investment, there would be a necessary process to ensure it transformed services for the benefit of patients and would provide value for money for taxpayers.

"This process is led by the trust, with funding usually provided when the full business case has been approved," he added.

"However, funding may be provided prior to this where appropriate to speed up delivery overall."

Mr Argar said recent improvements had been introduced to support projects centrally, for example a streamlined business case process with joint central approvals.

"In addition, our work on hospital design standards also provides a stronger approach to project delivery, to ensure that funding is reaching the front line as soon and efficiently as possible," he said.

Future Fit was launched in 2013 as a review of hospital services in the county, to ensure they would be able to meet future needs.

In November 2016 the Future Fit board announced its preferred option would be to create a single, enlarged A & E unit at Shrewsbury, and to turn the Telford Hospital into a centre for planned care. Telford MP Lucy Allan, and Mark Pritchard, MP for The Wrekin, both called for A & E services to be retained at Princess Royal, while campaigner Gill George called for Future Fit to be dropped completely.

Mr Kawczynksi has said lives are being put at risk by delays to the scheme.

Sir Neil McKay, chairman of the NHS sustainability and ransformation partnership in the county, said he hoped to have the business case for the project approved by the start of 2022, with major work starting “soon afterwards”.

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