Shropshire Star

Critic rounds on 'blink-and-you-miss-it' south Shropshire hospital engagement process

Campaigners slammed a 'blink-and-you-miss-it engagement process' as a health provider ponders whether to end its contract to run inpatient beds at a south Shropshire hospital.


Bishop's Castle Hospital's 16 beds are currently closed although the centre is providing a range of services and health leaders turned out to hear the concerns of residents at a meeting this week.

Gill George, chair of Shropshire, Telford & Wrekin Defend Our NHS, told the meeting at the town's community college that she wondered why an "engagement" process was being carried out and not a formal consultation.

The Shropshire Community Health Trust (ShropCom) is set to enter a period of engagement with patients, carers, members of the public, and stakeholders about whether it will give notice on its contract for the inpatient service at the hospital.

If the trust does withdraw from the contract, ShropCom says it will continue to work with NHS Shropshire Telford and Wrekin (NHS STW) to engage and involve the public in the co-design of any proposals for future models of care.

Ms George said: “Why is it that this is a ‘blink and you miss it’ engagement and not a formal consultation?

“It’s not good enough to wash your hands of it and pass responsibility to the integrated care board (ICB) at the point where you have already pulled the plug on the hospital beds and the outcome is effectively pre-determined.

“That is playing games. It’s not good enough.”

Ms George also referenced the judicial review brought by a resident last year against the sudden closure – which the trust decided not to fight after it accepted it should not have made the decision without public input.

Ms George said the trust should have learned from this and implored bosses to “do better”.

Tina Long, chair of the ShropCom board of directors, said: “We hold our hands up and say with hindsight we could have started this process sooner.”