Response to Future Fit consultation from Ludlow’s unitary councillors

This is our response to the Future Fit consultation.

Submission from the Shropshire councillors for Ludlow and Clee. 11 September 2018.

The Future Fit proposals have been controversial from the outset. This is in part due to the top down process where that has too often followed idealistic models at the expense of the needs and desires of communities. It has also occurred because three different interlinked debates have been happening at the same time. These debates are about national, county and community resources.

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SaTH launches a consultation to “temporarily” close rural maternity units permanently

Today Shrewsbury and Telford Hospital Trust launched a six week consultation on the future of rural maternity services. It has kept this very quiet. The review follows the extended closure of MLUs in Ludlow, Bridgnorth and Oswestry.

Tracey Huffer, Shropshire Councillor for Ludlow East, says: “It’s almost a joke. It is so typical of the way that SaTH is working.”

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Tracey continues:

The midwife led maternity units have been closed for births for weeks. Now SaTH has launched a consultation intended to make the closure for births permanent.

SaTH may try to pretend that the closure of MLUs for births is temporary. The reality is that it will be permanent. It may blame a shortage of staff. The reality is that SaTH itself has created that shortage. SaTH may plead that women are “preferring” to give birth in Shrewsbury or Telford. The reality is that rural mothers have had no choice where to give birth because SaTH has constantly closed the rural midwifery led units at short notice.

I am lost for words. We have been here before. We have been backwards and forwards time and time again on closures and consultations.

But SaTH has not listened to anything said so far. Rural mothers around the county have shouted loud that they want to give birth locally. They have organised protest marches. But the health trust has not listened to anything the mothers who love the maternity units in Ludlow, Bridgnorth and Oswestry.

Families in rural areas deserve first class local maternity services. We have had that service until just a few years ago. The Shrewsbury and Telford Hospital Trust now wants to withdraw midwifery led maternity services from rural areas.

The time is long overdue for SaTH to recognise that it is also the Shropshire hospital trust. It must serve us all, not just Shrewsbury and Telford.

It will be a huge blow to rural life if mothers are permanently banned from giving birth in our community hospitals.

Extended closure of rural maternity units is an excuse to close them permanently – it’s wrong

The Shrewsbury and Telford Hospital Trust today announced that the rural maternity units at Ludlow, Oswestry and Bridgnorth are to remain closed for births indefinitely. This decision has been made ahead of a public consultation on the future of the MLUs. It is obvious that SaTH intends to close the three MLUs permanently. It claims that 98% of women are “choosing” to give birth elsewhere. Of course this is so. The rural MLUs are rarely open for births.

This has been a cynical exercise to shut the MLUs by stealth.

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A&E consultation: The NHS is asking people to play Russian roulette with their health

The Shropshire Councillors for Ludlow and Clee are backing Option 1 for Future Fit. But they warn that asking people to choose to choose a single A&E for Shropshire is like asking them to play Russian Roulette with people’s lives.

Faced with the choice between Option 1, with the A&E based in Shrewsbury, and Option 2, which would see the single A&E site in Telford, they are backing Option 1.

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Future Fit consultation launches: It’s time to decide the future of Shropshire’s hospitals

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.

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