Future Fit: Scrapping of Rural Urgent Care Centres is a disaster in the making for Ludlow, says Tracey Huffer

“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.

Tracey continues:

“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.

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Health bosses plan further reduction in community hospital beds in Ludlow and across Shropshire

The Clinical Commissioning Group is planning to reduce the number of beds at community hospitals in Shropshire by around 40%. At Ludlow, this would mean a reduction from 24 to 14 beds. The CCG’s intention is to rely more on community services and adult social care to ensure the wellbeing of patients that would otherwise have been treated at Ludlow.

BBC Radio Shropshire is reporting today that the Shropshire Community Health Trust is saying it is not responsible for the plans. It is seeking urgent discussions with the CCG “to understand its reasoning.” This shows just how dysfunctional our local health system has become. The autocratic behaviour of the CCG has all but wrecked the Future Fit programme to modernise health services in the county. Now it is imposing changes on community hospitals without consultation with the trust that runs them.

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The Future Fit hospital programme has ground to a halt – now it must have a complete overhaul

Guest post by Councillor Tracey Huffer.

Yesterday afternoon, the team overseeing the Future Fit programme to reshape announced that it is deferring a decision on the future of A&E services in Shropshire. After more than two years of work, the question of whether the county will be reduced to a single accident and emergency centre at either Shrewsbury or Telford, or whether the current two A&Es will continue. It is now likely to be the autumn of 2016 before the Future Fit board makes this vital decision.

It is very frustrating that no decision has been reached. But it is also an opportunity to undertake a root and branch review of the entire Future Fit scheme (as I called for earlier this week). Too often Future Fit has had its head in the clouds, pursuing dream projects like a new super-hospital between Shrewsbury and Telford. That was never affordable. Because Future Fit didn’t have its feet on the ground, it has failed to recognise the contributions that community hospitals like Ludlow’s can make.

The delay to Future Fit gives an opportunity to change the way that the programme is run. It should be more practical and less theoretical. It should build on the resources we have rather than trying to reinvent things from scratch. Otherwise, Future Fit will only grind to a halt again.

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Councillor Tracey Huffer calls for root and branch review of the future of Future Fit after management changes

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.

Tracey says:

“The problem has been that this project has been based on what might be, rather than what can be.

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Future Fit is at last recognising rural needs – but Ludlow Hospital may lose all its beds

After weeks of concern over cutbacks at Ludlow Hospital, Andy Boddington and Tracey Huffer ask whether the hospital has a future under Future Fit.

There have been two announcements about Future Fit recently. The Future Fit team scrapped the option of building a £500 million plus A&E hospital on a greenfield site between Shrewsbury and Telford. Now, it has delayed a decision on where Rural Urgent Care Centres will go in the county. As it does so, we fear that Ludlow Hospital services are being reduced by stealth. Its future may be a hospital without beds run by overstretched GPs.

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