I have heard from several sources – perhaps just one echoed around social networks – that Ludlow Community Hospital is to close on Wednesday. We need to scotch this rumour. It is false.
Rumours usually have a spark that sets them going. I don’t know why this myth started but I do know what is happening.
We have recognised for some time that Shropshire Community Health NHS Trust (ShropCom) is a small player in the myriad of NHS trusts that provide health services in our county. ShropCom runs the community hospitals around the county. Now it has decided to merge with another NHS trust. A briefing from ShropCom says:
“To achieve all of the things we want to do to create high quality community services in the future our organisation will have to be part of something diﬀerent, probably bigger.”
ShropCom has initial agreement with NHS chiefs:
“Our regulator, NHS Improvement (NHSI) agrees with us and at our public Board meeting on Thursday (24 November) we will recommend that the Board confirms our organisation is not sustainable in its present form. NHSI will then support us to secure a new form for our services.”
There are dangers here. The community health trust had a role in promoting health services in rural areas – it goes with the word “community”.
We have expected for a while that ShropCom would merge with the Shrewsbury and Telford Hospital NHS Trust (SaTH). I have no idea whether this is on the cards. But SaTH thinks about services in Shrewsbury and Telford first. I fear for the future of rural health services without ShropCom.
I am sure that a merger of health trusts is inevitable. But ShropCom should not end its days in a takeover that could strip health services from rural Shropshire.
A few facts
FAQ. Who runs Ludlow Hospital? Quite a lot of organisations it seems. The site is owned by NHS Property Trust (PropCo). Much of the hospital is run by Shropshire Community Health NHS Trust (ShropCom). South Staffordshire Mental Health NHS Foundation Trust (SSSFT) runs the old workhouse, where Ludlow Maternity Unit was formerly located. Shrewsbury and Telford Hospital NHS Trust (SaTH) runs the maternity unit in Stretton Ward. Funding for most services on the hospital site comes from Shropshire Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG). West Midlands Ambulance Trust runs ambulances out of the hospital (WMAS). And we have the fantastic Shropshire Doctors Co-operative Ltd (Shropdoc) on the hospital site too. Maybe there are more but I have counted seven NHS bodies so far. The health service is a big business but it also a very fragmented business.
FAQ. Planning permission. Does Ludlow Hospital have planning permission for housing? In short, no. The site was put forward for housing on the assumption the site would become vacant when the new hospital was built on the Eco Park. When the hospital plan was dropped, so were the housing plans. Read more…