In recent weeks, it has become known that Caron Morton and Bill Gowans, two of the key figures in the Future Fit project, have stepped back from running the programme intended to reshape Shropshire’s hospital services. Tracey Huffer, Shropshire Councillor for Ludlow East believes that this could provide an opportunity to reshape the entire Future Fit project. Her call for a review also follows a survey under way in Ludlow that reveals that most people don’t know much about Future Fit. Those that do know about it do not trust the project to deliver the right decisions.
“The problem has been that this project has been based on what might be, rather than what can be.
Future Fit has spent a lot of time considering options that can’t be delivered. It has only recently ruled out a new accident and emergency unit midway between Shrewsbury and Telford. But it has always been obvious that we could never afford the half a billion pounds a new hospital would cost.
At the same time, Future Fit has largely ignored the very significant problems that rural areas like Ludlow face in getting access to health services. It has failed to recognise the contribution that community hospitals like Ludlow are making and can make to health care.
Caron Morton and Bill Owens have done their utmost to make this project work and have contributed a great deal towards the future of health in this county. But it is now time for a root and branch review of the future of Future Fit.
The programme should be redesigned to be more practical. There needs to be stronger recognition of the needs of rural communities and the difficulties they have in getting access to expert heath care.
Future services should build on the health provision we have already have, not try to reinvent it from scratch.
We have seen how easily dreams can be shattered with the scrapping two years ago of the plans to build a new hospital on the outskirts of Ludlow. That’s why Future Fit should be based more on practical realities, not theoretical models.
Future Fit also needs to improve its communications.
We have a community survey under way in Ludlow. Early results suggest that a quarter of people have never heard of Future Fit. Nearly one third say they have heard of the project but don’t know enough about it. Two-fifths of people responding so far say they don’t trust Future Fit to make the right decisions. Just 3% of people trust the project to make the correct decisions. It is clear that people in the Ludlow area either don’t know about Future Fit or don’t trust it.
These results raise serious concerns about the way that Future Fit has operated. That’s why I think it is now time for a root and branch review of the entire project.”
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