Concerns that plans for new health hub in Shrewsbury are 'being pushed through without consideration of alternative options'

Concerns have been voiced that plans for a new health hub in Shrewsbury are being pushed through without consideration of alternative options.

Liberal Democrat councillors say the plans – which could bring up to eight GP surgeries or some of the services they offer under one roof – have left patients worried.

They say Shropshire, Telford and Wrekin Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG) should have involved patients in the project at a much earlier stage, and published the methodology and rationale behind the proposed health hub model.

Speaking at a meeting of Shropshire Council’s cabinet, Councillor Bernie Bentick, a retired consultant gynaecologist, said the plans risked making it more difficult for some patients to access services.

He said: “The proposal for a single health hub in Shrewsbury has raised concerns in the local community and threatens the future of all GP practices.

“Whilst recognising the reported pressures on general practice in terms of increasing demand, recruitment and retention and the expanding range of services expected to be offered in the community, we also see from the public increased dissatisfaction with primary care services.

“Shrewsbury has always seen high levels of satisfaction with GP services and one thing patients value is a local easy access to services, with doctors, nurses, and receptionists that they know.

“We are concerned that the proposals by the Shrewsbury, Telford & Wrekin CCG to bring together so many GP services into one health hub have been developed without full public participation and could result in the closure of many GP practices.”

Councillor Bentick said the ‘listening exercise’ carried out by the CCG during September was “wholly insufficient” as only one option was being put forward.

He added that a quality impact assessment (QIA) and equality impact assessment (EIA) of the health hub plan and alternative options should also have been carried out.

“As the current proposals stand, there appears to have been little if any engagement in the development of the ideas, no publication of the methodology, no clear consideration of other options and no QIAs or EIAs done on the proposals, let alone other options for GP provision across Shrewsbury," he said.

“These proposals are significant and would result in a major change in how commissioned primary health care services are provided and we believe that these changes should trigger a formal consultation process.

“Everyone will need GP services at some point, or multiple points in their lives and as this proposal fundamentally alters how these services will be accessed, the public need to be involved, need to be able to say how these changes will impact on them but they also need to understand the pressures and threats that have led to these proposals.

“Better involvement, communication and ultimately consultation is integral to facing the challenges in the health service and developing new models of care.”

Councillor Bentick asked cabinet what discussions had taken place between the council and the CCG over the proposals.

He further asked for the council to request the CCG undertake a full public consultation “on any proposed changes to primary health care, including health hubs, at all appropriate stages”.

Councillor Dean Carroll, responding on behalf of Councillor Simon Jones, portfolio holder for health and adult social care, said the CCG was planning to launch a full consultation over the health hub proposals in November.

He said plans for a number of hubs including this one were being developed along with the wider primary care strategy, which would be discussed by the council’s health and wellbeing board and its health and adult social care overview and scrutiny committee.

The response from Councillor Jones added: “At this stage we do not have any further details but I will formally request this through the boards and governance arrangements and will make a commitment to share this with members and the public.

“I will also commit to challenge where we do not think this is robust enough.”

The eight GP practices involved are The Beeches, Claremont Bank, Mytton Oak, Radbrook Green, Belvidere, Marden, Marysville and South Hermitage.

Health bosses say some of the surgeries would move to the new building or base selected services there.

The hub, which could open in autumn 2024, could also cater for x-rays, scans, midwives and outpatient clinics from the Shrewsbury and Telford Hospital NHS Trust, as well as some council and voluntary sector services.

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