“I am in utter despair. This is a disaster in the making.”
That is the reaction of Shropshire Councillor and nurse, Tracey Huffer, to the news that the Future Fit programme has abandoned any hope of creating Urgent Rural Care Centres in Shropshire.
“We have been told for two years that Future Fit would strengthen care for sick and vulnerable people in rural areas. Now we hear that for anything for more serious than a sprain or cut, patients may have to go on a sixty-mile round trip to Shrewsbury or Telford. That’s just wrong and people will suffer as a result.
“The community health trusts have now made it clear that the needs of rural patients are second best. We have been seriously let down. It looks like we are just going to get sticking plasters applied if you live outside Shrewsbury or Telford.
“The people of Ludlow and the rural south of the county have a right to a decent medical service. We need at least a major injuries unit at Ludlow Hospital. But there is no guarantee that the hospital will survive. The NHS lease on the property has still not been signed.
“Our GPs are really under pressure here in Ludlow. If they are to take on extra patient work, they will need to train staff, secure space and above all receive more funding. There is no sign of any money being provided under Future Fit. There is no hint of a plan for getting improved community health services in place. And there is no safety net should Future Fit’s plans fail.
“It is time for us to act locally. What we need to do now is to build a local future for health care services in this town. This needs to involve the GPs, the community health care trust that runs the hospital, our care homes and the whole of the local community. The Future Fit programme, funded by millions of pounds of public money, seems incapable of doing that for us.
“We need action at a national level too. Our MP, Philip Dunne, must stride harder to get the lease on Ludlow Hospital signed. He must lobby health ministers again to ensure that urgent rural care is not overlooked under Future Fit.”