The plans approved in 2019 place the main emergency department for the county at Royal Shrewsbury Hospital, with Telford’s Princess Royal Hospital focussing on planned care.
The Department of Health and Social Care approved £312 million of funding in 2018, based on estimates in a draft business case compiled two years earlier, but revisions the following year saw that rise to £533m.
Telford & Wrekin Council cabinet member Andy Burford said he was concerned work in the PRH could be dropped from the plan, especially as costs are suspected to have risen further.
Clare Skidmore, accountable officer at the clinical commissioning group in charge of healthcare in the region, said the increased costs needed to be addressed but there was “no intention to deviate” from the approved plan.
Speaking at a meeting of the borough’s Health and Wellbeing Board, Councillor Burford, who holds the health and social care portfolio, said the project had been “somewhat beneath the radar in recent times” due to the Covid-19 pandemic, but “many of our initial concerns about the programme haven’t been addressed”.
He asked Mrs Skidmore for “assurances that the full programme of work will be completed, including the investment in PRH and the so-called ‘A&E Local’, although I’m not really sure what that is’.”
Mrs Skidmore said the Hospital Transformation Programme Board was “still committed” to delivering the reorganisation and upgrades in full.
“The enhances offer for PRH is still included in that programme and will be delivered,” she said.
“At the moment as it stands we do need to address the affordability challenges, that doesn’t stop, but the programme, there is no intention to deviate from that.”
Councillor Burford said: “I have watched, from a distance, NHS and hospital programmes, especially those that have been phased, and very often the last steps are never reached.
“It won’t have escaped anyone that it is in the last couple of phases that most of the work on PRH is meant to be.”
He said he was “in an odd position of defending Future Fit” by arguing that, if carried out at all, it needs to be carried out in full, but said he was concerned projected costs were “approaching double” the £312 million first forecast.
“It continues to be a concern to us,” he said.
In a report to the Shrewsbury and Telford Hospital NHS Trust Board last month, interim Strategy and Planning Director Chris Preston said the increased estimated cost, from £312 million in 2018 to £533 million the following year, was “predominantly due to increases in published government inflation rates and changes to technical classifications”. He told board members this would have to be addressed as the strategic outline case was finalised and submitted to NHS England / Improvement for approval.