Last night was a night of political drama. MPs voted to move Brexit forward but their demand for the exit agreement to be renegotiated may well be blocked by EU leaders.
The Joint Clinical Commissioning Groups voted to close the A&E at Princes Royal Hospital, in favour of a single A&E at the Royal Shrewsbury Hospital. Telford and Wrekin Council leader Shaun Davies has already said that he will ask health secretary Matt Hancock to intervene. If that doesn’t succeed, I wouldn’t be surprised if the decision is challenged in the high court.
The meeting at Harper Adams University was crowded and often interrupted by shouts from the audience. The panel comprised members of Shropshire CCG and Telford and Wrekin CCG under an independent chair. It was his decision to not allow public questions at the meeting. (Meeting papers.)
To cries of “resign” and “blood on your hands” from some of the audience, the Joint CCG rubber stamped all the recommendations, including congratulating itself on its consultation. The headline is, of course, the decision to choose Option 1, a single A&E at the Royal Shrewsbury Hospital with the children’s unit moved from Telford. Planned care will be at the Princes Royal Hospital. Both sites will have Urgent Care Centres open 24×7 (See summary below.)
Councillor Tracey Huffer gave her reaction immediately after the decision.
No one now believes Future Fit is the new future. All it seems be trying to do is fix the past. Putting sticking plasters on major wounds.
There is going to be a lot of argument about whether this is the right decision.
The decision might fit the future of the NHS finances but it doesn’t fit the future of our county.
We can’t ignore the hard truth. That hard truth is that the joint CCGs last night decided to continue its drive to centralise services. Once again there has been no consideration of the impact in rural areas like Ludlow.
This comes as Shropshire CCG is quietly cutting community transport services back to the bone. Eligibility criteria for free community transport have been tightened so far that most people now don’t qualify. The CCG will no longer make top up payments for community car schemes. The patient will have to pay more or the service will fold.
People won’t be able to get to Telford from Ludlow for planned care without a whole day of complicated travel or an expensive taxi service.
The board papers talk of increasing the frequency of bus services and park and ride. But they don’t mention the need for entirely new routes and ways of travelling to serve the new health geography. Or that Shropshire Council is poised to make massive cuts to bus subsidies.
With the planned cuts to Shropshire Council’s public health budget, the closure of the pain clinic at Gobowen and Future Fit, there is every feeling that the NHS in Shropshire is falling apart.