Shropshire Star

MP calls for investigation into Future Fit delays

An MP has called for the National Audit Office to investigate the cost to the taxpayer of delays to the controversial shake-up of Shropshire's hospital services.

Last updated
Daniel Kawczynski MP, left, and Councillor Shaun Davies

Daniel Kawczynski says Telford & Wrekin Council's opposition to the Future Fit hospital plan, which proposes to centre the county's 24-hour A & E services in Shrewsbury, has cost the taxpayer almost £200 million.

Mr Kawczynski, MP for Shrewsbury and Atcham, said were it not for Telford & Wrekin Council's opposition to the Future Fit scheme, work could have begun three years ago at a much smaller cost to the taxpayer.

Future Fit, which would see the 24-hour emergency unit at Telford's Princess Royal Hospital downgraded to a part-time 'A & E local' centre, was given the final go-ahead by the Department of Health in October last year.

It will also see the women-and-children unit at Telford move to Shrewsbury, while the Princess Royal will be redeveloped as a centre for planned care.

The Government agreed to provide £312 million in funding for the scheme in March 2018, but in December 2019 it was revealed that the cost had risen to almost £500 million.

Mr Kawczynski said: "I'm asking the National Audit Office to investigate the Future Fit process.

"I believe the huge delays have cost the taxpayer £200 million, at a time when the UK is already struggling with £2 trillion worth of debt, and is borrowing huge amounts to get over the coronavirus.

"Perhaps Telford Council will offer to put up that money," Mr Kawczynski added.

"We had secured that £312 million three years ago, and the work could have started right now had not Telford Council thrown every spoke into the wheel that it could think of."

Councillor Shaun Davies, leader of Telford & Wrekin Council, said the cost of the scheme had already risen to £500m before the council intervened by calling for an independent review.

He said: “The MP for Shrewsbury continues to campaign for the downgrading of our A & E here in Telford, and close the women-and-children unit.

"A post-Covid world requires the whole scheme to be looked at again."

Mr Kawczynski said he would also be seeking discussions with Sir Neil McKay, chairman of Shropshire Sustainability & Transformation Partnership, the body set up to oversee health services in the county.

He said he would be urging to Sir Neil to ensure that work on Future Fit began as quickly as possible.

"We can no longer afford more delays as lives are at risk," he added.

Last week, in response to a question from Mr Kawczynski, health minister Edward Algar reiterated the Government's support for the Future Fit scheme.

"We remain committed to supporting Shrewsbury and Telford Hospitals NHS Trust’s Future Fit scheme and have previously confirmed approval in principle of £6 million of early funding to continue to develop the sustainability and transformation partnership scheme," said Mr Algar.

"Once approval is granted, this funding will be provided to the trust in the usual way."