Shropshire Star

Political opponents clash over Shropshire 'super hospital' plans

The prospect of a cross-party meeting over plans for a county super hospital seems slim with a council and MPs at odds over the way forward.

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Political opponents have clashed over the plans for the future of the county's hospital services

Telford & Wrekin's Labour-controlled council has written to the county's Conservative MPs, and the leader of Shropshire Council, calling for a meeting to discuss lobbying for an entirely new hospital to replace the Future Fit plans.

The suggestion is for a "single super hospital, fairly located between the two major towns" – instead of the Future Fit plan which will see Royal Shrewsbury Hospital (RSH) become the county's only A&E, and consultant-led woman and children's services move from Telford to RSH.

Responding to the call, both Telford MP Lucy Allan and Wrekin MP Mark Pritchard questioned why the council had not supported a plan suggested by Tories in 2017 to create a single emergency care hospital, based on a model in Northumbria.

Mr Pritchard said: "This is an offer that has arrived four years too late. When Councillors Andrew Eade, Nigel Dugmore and myself suggested a single super hospital, after our visit to Northumbria, it was local Labour who dismissed our approach for joint working and collaboration.

"The opportunity might well have passed. The Labour Party has wasted time playing politics for the last four years and are now left with egg on their political face."

Ms Allan said it would be local health providers who would decide which hospital plans go forward, and urged the council to use its influence to persuade them of the merits of a single-site option.

The women & children's centre at Telford's Princess Royal Hospital
Royal Shrewsbury Hospital

She said she would happily back the move if they are successful.

She said: "Local councils have a vital role to play in working alongside local health bodies and clinicians to make the case for our area.

"I am not aware of the work our local council has done on this, but they ought reasonably to have been talking about health inequalities in Telford, the rapid population growth, the demand for A&E and women and children’s services and difficulties in travelling out of borough to access care.

"I hope that Telford & Wrekin Council has also been working with Shropshire Council, although I am not aware of this. Instead all we have heard has been political attacks, when of course it is not for Government to design a local hospital plan or decide which hospital got what level of investment. That was a local decision taken locally.

"Throughout this lengthy seven year saga, it is important to note that in Telford we have had a Labour council charged with the vital role of securing Telford’s share of this Government cash. The Government provided the cash requested by the local health bodies and it has always been for local clinicians and health bodies to decide how best to allocate the money.

"I want to see Telford & Wrekin Council get round the table with the local health bodies in a constructive way to try to persuade and influence them to ensure that Telford can access A&E locally and gets a fair share of the cash."

She added: "The idea of a 'super hospital' to be equidistant between Telford and Shrewsbury on a brownfield site was proposed as far back as 2015. At that time MPs and Conservative councillors also supported this proposal. The council was opposed to it. It would appear to be far too late to revisit this idea now, although of course if the council can get the health bodies to reconsider this option, I would support it."

Responding to the comments Telford & Wrekin Council leader Councillor Shaun Davies, who sent the invitation for a meeting on the issue, said: "This proposition is about a single site hospital, not as was previously proposed by the conservative MPs and councillors, a configuration that would seek three sites – the Northumberland model.

"People will also understand it is for the Government and department of health to decide how much money and where the hospital can go. Indeed it was the last health secretary who approved the latest configuration that would see Telford lose its A&E and women and children's' service move to Shrewsbury.

"We need to see true leadership from all members of parliament to lobby the Government for the money to truly level up our health system in Shropshire. The Government has said it will build 40 new hospitals, we only ask that one of those is in Shropshire."

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