Ambulance service says Shropshire hospital plans will be better for patients

The re-organisation of the county's under-pressure emergency hospitals has been backed by the ambulance service.

West Midlands Ambulance Service, which has faced delays at the county's emergency hospitals, has thrown its weight behind plans to reorganise them.
West Midlands Ambulance Service, which has faced delays at the county's emergency hospitals, has thrown its weight behind plans to reorganise them.

Shrewsbury & Telford Hospital NHS Trust is currently working through much-delayed 'Future Fit' plans that would change which services are provided at its two hospitals – Royal Shrewsbury (RSH) and Princess Royal in Telford (PRH).

After considerable delays the plans have progressed to their furthest stage yet, with the £312m proposal set to be submitted for final government approval in early summer.

Both PRH and RSH have seen major pressure on A&E departments in recent years – and particularly in recent months, with ambulance handover delays reaching record levels.

The situation has seen some patients waiting more than 10 hours in the back of an ambulance to be admitted, meaning paramedics are frequently stuck outside the hospitals unable to answer fresh emergency calls.

Now, West Midlands Ambulance Service has spoken out in support of the plans for the hospitals, with its Director of Nursing, Mark Docherty, saying he believes they will provide better and safer services for patients.

The plans have not been without controversy – with Telford & Wrekin Council, and local Telford residents campaigning for a re-think.

The proposals would see RSH become the base for the county's only 24-hour A&E department – currently both RSH and PRH offer the service.

PRH will have what has been described as an 'A&E Local,' while consultant-led women and children's services move from Telford to Shrewsbury, with the Telford site becoming the centre for planned care.

Both sites would also have urgent care centres.

Mr Docherty said he believes the changes will reduce the need to transport emergency patients from one hospital to the other.

The transport currently takes up vital ambulance resource and increases the risk of delays.

The director also specifically addressed the concern – raised by Telford & Wrekin Council – that it will result in patients from the borough being put at risk due to the need to travel further for treatment.

He said: “Before any changes are made to the way hospitals provide their services, we need to ask: what is the right thing for patients? I believe that these planned changes will make patients safer, make sure they get better care, and attract new staff – all of which will save lives.

“I understand people’s concerns that these changes might mean they have to travel further to get to the right hospital, but from my experience in the ambulance service, the most important thing is that people get to the right nurses, doctors and surgeons the first time.

"When we have to transfer patients to a second hospital, ambulance waiting times go up and patients are at risk of their conditions worsening.

“Under the new system, all the right specialists and the equipment they need will be in one place. Patients will be able to see the right clinicians and get diagnosed faster. Treatment, including surgery, will be more easily available.

“I believe that this is a very positive development for the community.”

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