Local and county health services are changing. Most readers of this blog will know of Future Fit, the programme to transform health services across Shropshire and Telford and Wrekin. In recent weeks, we have been engaged with the Sustainability and Transformation Plan (STP) and its implications for the county and Ludlow. I’ll write more on the problems with the STP in coming days and weeks.

On 9 December, Shropshire Together will be holding a workshop on one element of the STP. How do we deliver community based health services? Please come along to learn more about this part of the STP, to share your experiences and make your views known. Details of how to book are at the end of this post.

Future Fit is a local initiative, launched more than two years ago by the Shropshire and Telford Clinical Commissioning Groups (CCGs). It has always been controversial, not least for its plans to close one A&E department in the county.

The STP is an initiative imposed across the country by NHS England. It has already overtaken the struggling Future Fit to become the strategic health plan for our county. Like Future Fit, it is controversial locally. I also don’t see much support for any STP anywhere in England.

Some see Future Fit and the STP as essential to cope with rising health demands and a limited budget. Others see both programmes as a means of imposing financial cuts and reducing vital services. Many people – we councillors included – are worried that rural areas will be particularly disadvantaged as services are changed and, in all probability, centralised.

Future Fit was meant to run alongside a programme called Community Fit, which would look at how health services might be supported and delivered at a local level. Community Fit is no more and is being replaced by the neighbourhood programme within the STP.

What is the neighbourhood programme? I don’t think we really know yet. This workshop will give us more information. It will also help shape the programme. That’s why it is important that people attend if they can.

The workshop is open to everyone but you need to book. Friday 9 December 2016 at 2pm, Bishops Mascall Centre, Ludlow. Contact Linda Monteith, linda.monteith@shropshire.gov.uk, 07990 085443.

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