Two protests this week over controversial Shrewsbury GP health hub plan

Two protests are set to take place in Shrewsbury against a controversial GP services revamp which could see six surgeries closed and moved to a new hub.

Shrewsbury Lib Dem councillors Alex Wagner, Mary Davies and Bernie Bentick have concerns over the health hub plan
Shrewsbury Lib Dem councillors Alex Wagner, Mary Davies and Bernie Bentick have concerns over the health hub plan

NHS Shropshire, Telford and Wrekin Integrated Care System (ICS) wants to create the Shrewsbury Health and Wellbeing Hub. However the move has raised concerns in the community over transport, care continuity and staffing.

A petition against the move has gathered 2,000 signatures.

Last week, the ICS announced that land next to Shrewsbury Town Football Club, in Oteley Road, as the preferred location.

Now, two protests have been confirmed for Tuesday and Sunday this week.

The first will take place outside Belvidere Medical Practice in Belvidere Road at 6pm on Tuesday, where a meeting is being held. The second will be held outside Shirehall at 10.30am on Sunday.

In a letter to Dr Charlotte Hart, clinical lead for the health hub project, Underdale councillor David Vasmer wrote: "Your choice of a site for the new hub appears to be totally unsuitable because it is not central and is badly served by bus services and is not even ideal for pedestrians and cyclists.

"Briefings from officials emphasise the importance of securing better access to health services but your decision will create a situation where those most in need of better health services – people on low incomes without access to a car – will find it very difficult to reach the hub, resulting in many being late or giving up, thereby missing their appointments

"You say that you are exploring transport solutions but given the site’s poor location for transport would it not be better to find a site where access to public transport is already good? To make the Oteley Road site accessible by public transport you will need to make a significant investment in bus services – do you have access to such funds? Or are you relying on Shropshire Council being successful in its Levelling Up bid for bus investment?"

Ahead of the Shirehall protest, Meole councillor Bernie Bentick, a retired NHS consultant, said: “Shrewsbury residents deserve first-class GP provision. These proposals will undoubtedly have a negative impact on access to GP services in our town, and will cause wide-ranging issues for those without access to a car.

“Many already struggle to get an appointment or access GP services. These proposals will use Shrewsbury residents as guinea pigs for a system that is likely to make those problems worse. We simply have to protest these plans and show that we feel it is not right to deprive residents of access to a GP in their own community.

Bowbrook councillor Alex Wagner added: “I cannot urge residents enough to come to this protest.

"We have worked hard, pounding the pavements and winning 2,000 signatures on our petition. Now we need to show that the public view on this is stronger than ever. If they won’t consult the people of our town, we’ll make sure residents’ views are put across as strongly as possible through other routes.”

Dr Hart said: “No GP practices will close and there will be no loss of GP practices or health services. In fact, there is bigger risk of service loss if this hub is not implemented. Doing nothing really isn’t an option."

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