Shropshire Star

Future Fit: £312 million funding announcement sets politicians at loggerheads

A war of words has erupted between politicians over how £312 million will be used to transform hospitals in Shropshire.

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On Friday the Government released the multi-million pound sum for the Hospitals Transformation Programme (HTP) - formerly known as Future Fit.

Under the plans the Princess Royal Hospital (PRH) site in Telford will specialise in planned care and the Royal Shrewsbury Hospital site (RSH) will specialise in emergency care.

The A&E at Telford will be replaced by an urgent treatment centre, which is a move bitterly opposed by the Labour council leader Shaun Davies.

Telford A&E

Councillor Davies, the leader of Telford & Wrekin Council and would be Telford MP, said his "worst fears are set to be confirmed; Telford will be the largest town in England without a proper A&E."

He added: "I will continue to challenge these decisions and fight for what is best for our borough and our residents."

Dr Julia Buckley, Labour's would be MP for Shrewsbury, said she was not against the move but the £312 million was "not the £500 million that is needed." Dr Buckley is a Doctor of Philosophy in politics.

But Shrewsbury MP Daniel Kawczynski has accused the Shrewsbury Labour Party of "putting party political comradeship with their socialist comrades in Telford ahead of the interests of the Royal Shrewsbury Hospital".

Mr Kawczynski said he believes that Labour opposition to the move could, if the party wins power in the July 4 General Election, put a seven and a half year wait for progress "back to square one."

He said the plans were put together on the advice of 300 local clinicians and he was with his colleague and fellow Shropshire MP Philip Dunne in Parliament to ensure that final document was agreed.

However, Dr Buckley said Mr Kawczynski "continues on a path of creating a culture war division between Telford and Shrewsbury".

She called on politicians to work together to make the plans work.

"I am not against this," said Dr Buckley. "I welcome it but it is not the £500 million that is needed.

"Losing 60 beds in Telford will put pressure on the ambulance service," she added, saying she is "not assured" that the ambulance service will get the resources to manage the change.

"It must be joined up with the ambulance service and community services," she said.

"Getting 60 per cent of the money will mean that we will have to work together to close the gap.

"A sensible MP would sit down and work it out, and it is about time we did. But we have an MP who continues with a silly culture war."

In a statement Shrewsbury & Telford Hospital NHS Trust (SaTH), which runs the two acute hospitals, said: "The trust has received national approval of its full business case (FBC) for the Hospitals Transformation Programme (HTP), which is the final stage of approval.

"This releases the full £312 million investment in local services and means implementation of a new model of healthcare in the county, including construction, can now begin.

"Under the plans the Princess Royal Hospital (PRH) site will specialise in planned care and the Royal Shrewsbury Hospital site (RSH) will specialise in emergency care.

"This investment will help support the trust’s, and wider health and care system, ambitions of delivering high quality, sustainable services for patients in modern facilities.

"The clinically-led programme will provide faster access to the right care and clinicians. It will result in shorter waiting times for planned surgeries and shorter hospital stays for our patients.

"The trust will also continue its ongoing investment at both hospitals and the further development of community-based services to reduce waiting times and improve patient experience."

The approval means SaTH can now go ahead with the revamp of RSH and PRH, in a project that has been 11 years in the making.

The proposals will see RSH become the county’s only 24-hour full A&E, through a new purpose-built ‘emergency centre’, as well as the base for consultant-led women and children’s services, which move across from PRH.

PRH in turn becomes the centre of planned care and operations, with both hospitals having 24/7 urgent care centres.

Philip Dunne, the outgoing Ludlow MP said: “I have received the fantastic news that the government has earlier this week approved the record capital funding for this scheme in Shrewsbury and Telford, and I pay tribute to the hard work of so many people who have worked to get this massive investment in Shropshire’s healthcare services over the line.

“There have been many hurdles along the way, and it has taken longer than hoped. But residents in South Shropshire can now be confident that this colossal investment in improving acute care in Shropshire will be full steam ahead.

“I am pleased to have played my part over the years, and am really delighted to see this project approved before I step down as MP for Ludlow at the General Election."

Under the changes at RSH, there will be two new front doors – one to the emergency department and one to the new main entrance.

The emergency department will feature a large new reception and triage areas, with dedicated waiting areas for children and adults.

There will be expanded provision for 10 ambulances, a new acute medical floor and a new critical care unit in purpose-built accommodation.

At PRH a purpose-built £24m planned care hub will provide four operating theatres and a dedicated recovery area for elective care.

A new cancer treatment day centre will also expand on the current service from the Royal Shrewsbury Hospital.

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