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Shropshire Star comment: Recruiting is tallest of tall orders

By Shropshire Star | Opinions | Published:

With about 20,000 having now signed a petition fighting the overnight closure of Telford’s A&E department, and a march and rally planned, ordinary Salopians are doing what they can for their hospital.

The reaction shows just how much it means to people.

It is the public that has the principal stake in the outcome as it is the public who are the customers, the ones who should be receiving the service part of the National Health Service.

A communique from the Shrewsbury and Telford NHS Trust raises the possibly that, even now, and even after the measure has been approved, the temporary overnight closure of the accident and emergency department at the Princess Royal Hospital could be averted.

It is working, it says, with MPs and councillors to that end. And it could happen. Yes, all that is needed is more staff to keep things going, at least for the short term. Recruitment efforts are continuing. The minimum requirement is seven more middle grade doctors, and 15 more registered A&E nurses.

This is the tallest of tall orders. The underlying problem has been a chronic one over a number of years, so there is not going to be an overnight solution.

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If efforts to recruit more staff have not borne fruit already, there is no real reason, all other things being equal, to think more doctors and nurses will suddenly appear on the horizon like a modern-day medical cavalry.

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A lot of people will think it is already too late and much more should have been done to stop us getting into this situation in the first place.

Then there is Future Fit. This process to devise a strategy for the delivery of future health care in Shropshire is supposed to be the long term solution, but has been so controversial, protracted and convoluted that it has sustained levels of uncertainty.

And as a central proposal is that the number of A&E departments in Shropshire should be cut from two, to one, in what way does that offer any encouragement or incentive for medical professionals to come to this county and invest their lives and careers here?

The overnight A&E closure at the PRH is, if it goes ahead, firefighting. Shropshire needs to build a sustainable local NHS model which is proof against such incendiary possibilities.

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