Health minister to visit Shropshire over ambulance response times crisis

A Government minister has told MPs he will visit the county to see Shropshire's health crisis first hand.

MPs have welcomed a Health Minister's pledge to visit the county
MPs have welcomed a Health Minister's pledge to visit the county

Edward Argar MP made the pledge in a meeting with the county's MPs on Wednesday morning.

It has also been revealed that the county's Integrated Care Board is reviewing all aspects of the problems facing Shropshire's health system, while MPs will hold a summit with health chiefs to discuss problems facing patients in accessing ambulance, GP, and hospital care.

The meeting, which included all five of the county's MPs – Telford's Lucy Allan, Ludlow's Philip Dunne, Shrewsbury & Atcham's Daniel Kawczynski, North Shropshire's Helen Morgan, and the Wrekin's Mark Pritchard – was also attended by a number of the county's top health bosses.

It comes as Shropshire's health system has been faced with a number of issues in recent months, with concerns over worsening ambulance response times – driven by long waits to hand over patients at the county's hospitals.

West Midlands Ambulance Service estimates that every day in Shropshire around half of all ambulances on shift in the county are unable to respond to incidents because they are queueing waiting to handover patients to hospitals.

Hospitals themselves have struggled with the impact of Covid leading to staff sickness, and a reduction in space to treat patients.

In turn the county's hospitals also say they have faced difficulties in discharging healthy patients due to a lack of spaces for care in the community.

Both Liberal Democrat MP, Mrs Morgan, and Conservative Ms Allan, said they welcomed Mr Argar's pledge to visit the county.

Mrs Morgan said the visit would allow him to see "the scale of the problem and the need for change," while Ms Allan said he was "committed to helping to resolve the challenges".

Mrs Morgan said: "It is clear that the 12-hour waits for ambulances and day-long hospital handover delays are not the fault of one organisation but the result of several factors. That’s why Government support is urgently needed.

“I am grateful to Mr Argar to committing to visiting Shropshire and hope that this will help emphasise the scale of the problem and the need for change.

“Every week I am contacted by families whose loved ones have suffered as a result of ambulance, hospital and GP delays and the situation is not only unfair to them but it is also unfair to the hard-working ambulance crews, doctors and nurses having to cope with unprecedented pressure.”

Ms Allan said: "Today’s meeting was an opportunity to again raise concerns of constituents about the very serious ambulance waiting times they have experienced recently and the difficulties in accessing NHS care because critical gateways, such as local GPs, are so hard to access.

"The Health Minister Ed Argar has committed to visiting Telford and the Princess Royal this summer to see the situation for himself. He has been particularly supportive of our hospital and the campaign to retain A&E at the Princess Royal. The Minister made clear that the Shropshire health system is firmly on his radar and he is committed to helping to resolve the challenges that it faces. I am grateful to him for his support.

"I look forward to the upcoming summit. It is crucial to work together cross-party to improve services for patients across Shropshire and to tackle the very significant local healthcare challenges by working constructively with all health providers.”

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