Panel's response to Future Fit hospital plan concerns delayed by two weeks
An independent panel considering Telford & Wrekin Council's concerns over plans to revamp Shropshire's emergency hospitals has said its answers will be delayed.
In October the Department of Health confirmed that the Independent Reconfiguration Panel had been asked for more information in light of concerns raised by Telford & Wrekin Council about the Future Fit reorganisation of Shrewsbury & Telford Hospital NHS Trust (SaTH).
The concerns centre on the claim that the process has not taken account of the latest population and health inequalities data.
The panel had been asked to look at the concerns and report back to the Health Secretary, Victoria Atkins, by November 17.
It has now emerged that the panel has written her, outlining that the request is likely to take more time, and that a response will be provided by Monday, December 4.
It is understood that the delay is due to the panel needing to contact people involved in the process and gather more evidence.
The situation was triggered by a letter from the council to the Department of Health earlier this year.
It said that the original Future Fit plans – developed in 2018 – are based on data that is "at least eight years out of date and is no longer supported by the most recent census information".
The council pointed to 2021 census details that show Telford and Wrekin has "a faster growing ageing population than Shropshire", ''a growing number of women and children within the borough", "a disproportionately higher number of residents without access to a private motor vehicle than in Shropshire, creating significant challenges for those needing to travel more than 20 miles to access hospital care and treatment", and "greater health inequalities than in Shropshire".
The Future Fit plans will see major changes at Royal Shrewsbury Hospital (RSH) and Princess Royal Hospital Telford (PRH), which are both managed by SaTH.
Under the re-organisation RSH will become home to the county's only full A&E – with PRH in Telford seeing its current 24-hour A&E downgraded to an 'A&E Local'.
Both sites would have minor injuries units.
Consultant-led women and children's services would also move from PRH to RSH, with Telford in turn becoming the centre of planned treatment.
Telford & Wrekin Council has opposed the plans and called for them to be scrapped.
Speaking when the referral was confirmed a spokesman for Shrewsbury and Telford Hospital NHS Trust, said: “We will be cooperating fully with any requests for information by the Independent Reconfiguration Panel."