We have been waiting for this, even dreading this, for a long time. Way back in 2013, health managers announced that the county’s health services were to be reshaped. Not long after, they said that one of the A&Es would close under the Future Fit programme. Controversy has been raging since.
Today, the Clinical Commissioning Groups launched a major consultation on reorganising services at the Royal Shrewsbury Hospital and the Princes Royal Hospital. They are asking whether the A&E should be in Telford or Shrewsbury. If the A&E is in Shrewsbury, which is what the CCGs want, planned care will be in Telford. And vice versa if the A&E is in Telford. Health managers are not giving the choice of retaining two A&Es but there is an open comment box in the response form where this point can be made.
Health bosses want to invest £312 million authorised by the Department of Health to reorganise our two main hospitals. They have launched a public consultation under the Future Fit programme. The consultation closes at the beginning of September.
What is being proposed?
The recommended plan is to close the A&E unit at the Princes Royal Hospital in Telford and expand the A&E at the Royal Shrewsbury Hospital. (Click on the images to enlarge.)
What works best for the Ludlow area?
Option 1, with the A&E located at the Royal Shrewsbury. This is the best option for Ludlow and the surrounding villages. It will take 13 minutes longer for a blue light ambulance to travel from Ludlow to an A&E site in Telford. That’s 13 lifesaving minutes.
Isn’t two A&Es better?
Absolutely. In a perfect world and with a better funded NHS, we should have an A&E in both towns. But that option is not being offered by health chiefs. Shropshire residents are being given a hard choice between an A&E in Shrewsbury and planned care in Telford (Option 1). If not, the A&E in will be Telford and planned care in Shrewsbury (Option 2).
After five troubled years developing the Future Fit programme, the NHS is unlikely to scrap it at the last moment. There is likely to be more announced for the NHS early in July. But this is likely to be absorbed by the growing costs of ageing, obesity, diabetes, cancer, genetic medicine and new technology. It’s unlikely there will be money left over for keeping two A&Es in Shropshire. Jeremy Hunt is unlikely to ride to our rescue.
We will be writing more on this in coming weeks. Our Future Fit Focus newsletter.