Shropshire Star comment: 'A&E Local' means a compromise

So now we have some idea what the difference is between having an A&E, and an “A&E Local”.

And it is as many Telford campaigners fighting to keep the town’s accident and emergency department will have suspected. The name’s nearly the same, but an “A&E Local” is not a full-time A&E department.

When the Health Secretary Matt Hancock gave the nod to the Future Fit plans a few days ago, the controversial central proposal of which is that the Royal Shrewsbury Hospital will have Shropshire’s main emergency unit, he asked NHS England to investigate having an “A&E Local” at the Princess Royal Hospital.

Cue lots of head scratching over what that might mean. It turns out to mean having something better than an urgent care centre, but not quite as good as the A&E which is already at Telford. A compromise, in other words.

An “A&E Local” would provide A&E services during “core hours.” Anyone who has been to the A&E in Telford will wonder what that term can possibly mean as it is so busy that all hours, apart from the absolute dead of night, are core hours. Try going there in an evening. The big queues, and the long waits, will be ample demonstration that the evening hours are among core hours for Telford’s A&E.

If the evening hours are not judged to be core hours, and instead Telford’s “A&E Local” mirrors the working day in its opening hours, then the effect on the delivery of service is going to be substantial.

Looking on the bright side, it is reported that under this model the care would be led by an emergency care consultant, which broadens the range of cases that could be dealt with in terms of seriousness.

And another positive aspect is that from what David Evans, the accountable officer for Shropshire and Telford & Wrekin Clinical Commissioning Group, has said, creating an “A&E Local” at the Princess Royal Hospital can be done without too much trouble within the Future Fit strategy.

The clarification over the way ahead is welcome. For Telford, this is a sort of middle way, and now the big question is whether it is something that can be sold to Telford people.

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