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Shropshire Star comment: Let’s hope the future is brighter after Future Fit decision

By Shropshire Star | Telford | Opinions | Published:

Before we reflect on the decision, it’s important to remind ourselves how we reached this place.

The Future Fit meeting at Harper Adams University

Five years ago, our local health service launched an initiative called Future Fit. The intention was that health professionals would reshape the NHS so that it would better meet the needs of our communities.

The process was intended to give local residents a voice and be relatively short-lived. It was not. The Future Fit process has lasted for five years, until last night decisions were made. In taking so long to reach a verdict, the NHS created problems. As people talked the service down, a self-fulfilling prophecy arose.

It has created division and tension. That was never the intention.

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Those behind the Future Fit process are keen to stress this has been a thorough, clinically-led process that, with millions of pounds of investment on the table, will deliver a health service that better meets the needs of those in Shropshire and Mid Wales.

And of course that is what will be uppermost in peoples’ minds. A health service that is fit for purpose.

So what happens now? Last night’s decision will give the initiative a new sense of urgency and sense of purpose.

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However, it is likely that the decision will face further challenges from those unhappy with its conclusion. Councillors in Telford & Wrekin of all political persuasions believe the wrong outcome has been reached, with Mark Pritchard supporting calls for a judicial review to ensure, as he puts it, the decision was taken “for the right reasons”.

Given the gravity of the changes, such repercussions are to be expected and must run their course.

Ultimately, however, last night’s decision means a conclusion to the Future Fit debate is now in sight. Attention must then shift to delivering on those promises to improve healthcare for the people of Shropshire and Mid Wales.

After all, what matters most is the future of our health service and that is something all sides of the debate can agree upon. We cannot change what has happened. But there will be no let up in the scrutiny of the Future Fit programme as it moves to the next phase.

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