Future Fit: Initial business case due by end of July as cost rises to £530 million

The initial business case for Shropshire's Future Fit hospitals shake-up is expected to be complete by the end of July - as it was revealed that the project's cost has grown to £530 million from its original £312m budget, largely due to inflation.

The emergency department at Princess Royal Hospital, Telford, will be downgraded to an 'A&E Local' under the plans
The emergency department at Princess Royal Hospital, Telford, will be downgraded to an 'A&E Local' under the plans

Once complete, the strategic outline case will be submitted to NHS bosses for formal approval, but parts of the major scheme could also be hurried along to address "immediate operational issues".

The plans have been years in the making and a progress update will be given to the board of directors at Shrewsbury and Telford Hospital NHS Trust during a meeting on Thursday.

A report to the board says the trust undertook a a procurement exercise last month to appoint a preferred supplier for the work.

Royal Shrewsbury Hospital

Under the scheme, which has been renamed the 'hospitals transformation programme', Royal Shrewsbury Hospital will house the county's main A&E, with Princess Royal Hospital in Telford due to get an 'A&E Local'.

PRH will also take over responsibility for planned care but is due to lose its consultant-led women and children's services.

Higher

However, the report also acknowledges the challenges ahead as the funding requirements for the project have risen to more than £530 million, mainly due to increases in inflation rates.

That figure is much higher than the £312m approved by the Department of Health and Social Care three years ago.

The report says opportunities to accelerate the implementation of the scheme are being explored, with the aim of "delivering a proportion of the benefits in advance of the main infrastructure development".

It says: "Two business cases have been developed to increase capacity across Shrewsbury and Telford hospital sites.

"These two business cases, if approved, will allow the trust to establish additional ward capacity at RSH and enable elective inpatient and day case capacity to be protected at both RSH and PRH; address capacity and quality issues in respect of renal medicine at PRH through the transfer of the service into a dedicated community unit and provide capacity flexibility to support the first stages of service reconfiguration.

"The trust is planning to develop further business cases in the coming months, for implementation over the next four years, which will support the acceleration of acute reconfiguration benefit delivery."

The Future Fit meeting at Harper Adams University in 2019

Health bosses say the Future Fit scheme will improve patient care and help reduce cancellations of planned procedures.

But it has been met with widespread opposition.

The plans were reviewed under the instruction of Health Secretary Matt Hancock in 2019, following a request from Telford & Wrekin Council, after being confirmed by the local clinical commissioning groups in January of that year.

Scores of protestors turned up to the Future Fit decision-making meeting at Harper Adams University, near Newport, with some holding up banners which said the county should keep both its A&Es.

A protestor holds up a banner at the Future Fit decision-making meeting in 2019

The report adds: "The trust is presently working to complete an updated strategic outline case (SOC) by the end of July, which will then be submitted to NHS England/Improvement for formal approval.

"The finalised SOC will be available for wider circulation following approval by NHSEI."

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