Plan to move GP surgeries to create 'Health Hub' in Shrewsbury dubbed 'scandalous' by protesters

Protesters turned out with placards and a rallying cry of "what do we want? Consultation!" at a demonstration against plans to create a "health hub" in Shrewsbury.

Protest against Shrewsbury Health Hub at Belvidere Medical Practice in Shrewsbury..
Protest against Shrewsbury Health Hub at Belvidere Medical Practice in Shrewsbury..

About 50 people, lead by prominent Lib Dem Councillors, gathered on Tuesday outside the Belvidere Medical Practice, which is one of six earmarked for a move to Meole Brace.

Holding placards with "Save our GP service", "Local Drs for local people" and "Save Our Surgery" the protesters wanted to make their views heard.

A meeting that had been planned by health leaders to take place at the surgery had been moved. But protest leaders thought it was too late to take their demonstration to the new location across town.

Married couple Philip Scott, aged 83, and Gwen Scott, 81, said they thought the whole thing is "scandalous".

"They haven't decided on it correctly," said Mr Scott. "What about transport" Mrs Scott added.

One of the biggest concerns from campaigners is how patients would get to the health hub near Shrewsbury Town Football Club, in Oteley Road. They said there is no public transport to get them there.

Diana Johnson, 72, from Abbey Foregate, said: "We lost a practice in Monkmoor, I know how they feel and I have come to Belvidere, which is one of the GP practices, in support."

Diana has a Masters degree in Not for Profit Management and said she "didn't want to leave the decision to the experts."

She added that a good way to consult would be to have a questionnaire for all households and then carry out in-depth interviews on five per cent of them.

Mohammed Wasimi, aged 42, supported having local surgeries.

"I tried to phone the surgery to have a discussion with them about my daughter," he said. "But I could not make contact.

"I could easily walk here - and they should keep that. I felt morally obliged to be here at the protest."

Abbey ward councillor Mary Davies said her email inbox is full of concerns from local people about the plans to take surgeries away from on their doorsteps.

"Meole Brace is at the busy end of town. How are we going to get there? Some elderly people won't be able to drive there and public transport is lacking."

She called for a "proper consultation" which includes having "everything on the table."

Protest against Shrewsbury Health Hub at Belvidere Medical Practice in Shrewsbury..

John Price, aged 82, is concerned about the costs of setting up a new centre and thinks the price tag, which he says will be in the millions, would be better spent on keeping the current surgeries open.

Couple Tony, aged 85, and Jean Dudgon, aged 80, said they were also there to support the cause.

Meole councillor Bernie Bentick, a retired NHS consultant, made a speech to the crowd while standing in the middle of the quiet road outside the surgery.

He called the planned health hub a "pilot scheme", and added: "we are the guinea pigs, we haven't been consulted."

He led the protestors in a chant by asking "what do we want?" with the reply coming back from the assembled throng: "Consultation!"

Protest against Shrewsbury Health Hub at Belvidere Medical Practice in Shrewsbury..

Edna Boampong, director of communications and engagement at NHS Shropshire, Telford and Wrekin said there would be opportunities to take part in consultations over the coming months.

The spokesperson said: “We have held a number of meetings both virtually and face-to-face over the past few months with patients, staff, and local councillors to provide an update and to hear their views.

"These sessions have been widely advertised and councillors were invited directly. There will also be many more opportunities for people to have their say over the coming months before we enter the public consultation phase.

The meeting involving 15 patients was not part of the formal public consultation process and and health bosses were not attending.

"This was simply an opportunity to speak face-to-face with the designated Patient Participation Group (PPG) from Belvidere, as well as other patients from the practice, to discuss the plans and to make people aware of the consultation later this year - the meeting room could accommodate a maximum of 15 people," the spokesperson said.

“We know it is important to listen to people, this is a key element within our engagement programme. These sessions are aimed at helping us to deliver the best possible health and wellbeing hub that would be beneficial to the population.”

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