Health Secretary agrees to meet MPs over Shropshire NHS crisis

The Health Secretary has agreed to meet Shropshire MPs to discuss the current emergency care crisis in the county.

The Health Secretary has said that he is prepared to meet to discuss pressure on Shropshire's NHS.
The Health Secretary has said that he is prepared to meet to discuss pressure on Shropshire's NHS.

Steve Barclay made the offer when responding to a question from North Shropshire Liberal Democrat MP Helen Morgan in the House of Commons.

Mrs Morgan had highlighted long ambulance waiting times and intense pressure on Shropshire's A&Es during the discussion.

She asked the Health Secretary to meet her and other Shropshire MPs to address the crisis which saw one local doctor describe A&E as “like a warzone”.

Mrs Morgan said: "The urgent care and ambulance crisis has been brewing since autumn 2021 in Shropshire, and it's worsened since then. Last week, a doctor went on the record to say that the emergency department was like a warzone and that she feared that in a fire not everyone would get out alive.

“In a six-week period to the 12th of January, a Category Two response time in the Oswestry area was two hours and 10 minutes."

Category Two calls include patients who have suffered suspected heart attacks and strokes.

Mrs Morgan asked Mr Barclay: “So will the Secretary of State acknowledge that in some areas, the crisis is worse than others? And will he agree to meet with me, and the other MPs representing Shropshire, to discuss how we progress Shropshire further along this track to solve the urgent care crisis that is so serious there?”

Responding, Mr Barclay said: "I'm very happy to meet with the honourable lady and colleagues to discuss further. I think most people recognise that since there's huge pressures from flu over the Christmas period those flu numbers have come down. But of course, there is continued pressure in the system.”

It comes after Shropshire was given the lowest amount from the Government’s emergency winter discharge fund, despite having some of the worst bed-blocking rates in the country.

In recent months around one in five hospital beds in Shrewsbury and Telford have been filled by patients fit enough to be discharged.

Meanwhile, in December, 8,000 ambulance hours were lost due to paramedics having to wait to hand over patients to the emergency departments in Shrewsbury and Telford.

The longest wait for a Category Two call in Shropshire was 22 hours and 29 minutes and the average wait in the Oswestry area for Category Two was more than two hours, despite the target response time being 18 minutes.

Speaking after the exchange with Mr Barclay, Mrs Morgan said: "Shropshire has some of the longest ambulance and A&E waiting times in the country so I’m glad the Health Secretary has agreed to meet with me and other local MPs to discuss how this situation can be improved.

“Seriously ill patients in Shropshire wait far longer for ambulances and A&E treatment than patients elsewhere in the country, so it’s really important the Government recognises the extreme local pressure when it comes to tackling the wider NHS crisis.

“Our hospital wards, GP surgeries and care homes have been crying out for help for months and months and months."

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