Councillor Tracey Huffer calls for STP health plan to give greater recognition to rural needs

Update 16 December 2016

Tracey’s motion was accepte by Shropshire Council.

Main article 8 December 2016

Councillor Tracey Huffer is calling for a greater recognition of the needs of rural areas in the new health plan (STP) for Shropshire. She is concerned that rural areas will be marginalised as the county’s health chiefs struggle to reduce the £12.3 million deficit at the Shrewsbury and Telford Hospital NHS Trust (SaTH) and the £25.9 million deficit at Shropshire Clinical Commissioning Group.

Tracey has put forward a motion to next Thursday’s Shropshire Council meeting calling on council leaders to lobby for the Sustainability and Transformation Plan (STP) to give a greater emphasis on health delivery in rural areas.

Tracey is a practising nurse as well as a unitary councillor. She says:

“Health services in this county are currently more than £38 million in debt. The Sustainability and Transformation Plan requires an extra £311 million to implement changes, such as reorganising A&E services. Without the government agreeing more money for the NHS, I can’t see how we can find a third of a billion pounds. The ambitions of the STP are currently no more than a fantasy.

“That’s why I fear for the future of rural health services, especially maternity units. The tone of the STP and other local health service documents is that rural services are a problem and costly. I fear that health chiefs will concentrate almost all services in Shrewsbury and Telford.

“That will be wrong. Young mothers need local support. Dialysis needs to provided locally. We need local assessment of non-life threatening injuries. Otherwise A&E services and urgent care centres in Shrewsbury and Telford will be overwhelmed.

“Above all, it is unacceptable to expect people who are ill to travel 32 miles from Ludlow to the Royal Shrewsbury or the 35 miles along difficult roads to the Princess Royal. Long journeys, especially in winter, will create anxiety for people who are already in poor health. Public transport between Ludlow and the hospitals is difficult at the best of times, particularly to the Princes Royal in Telford.

“The STP needs a complete rethink and the needs of rural areas must be given special attention.”

Tracey Huffer’s motion

Sustainability and Transformation Plan

On 28 November, the STP for Shropshire and Telford and Wrekin was published.  It lacks detail, especially on finances.  The area where it is weakest is on provision of rural services.  The STP talks about reviewing community beds across the county.  We all know that ‘reviewing’ is a euphemism for cuts.  The STP barely makes a mention of rural maternity services.

This Council requests that the Leader or Chief Executive write to Simon Wright, the area lead for the STP, and Shropshire MPs, calling for a greater emphasis on rural care in the STP, including maternity care.