Shropshire Councillors Tracey Huffer and Heather Kidd, both members of Shropshire Council’s Health & Adult Social Care Overview and Scrutiny Committee, are calling for more information and early discussions on changes being mooted for Ludlow Community Hospital and other community hospitals in the county.

There needs to be a wider discussion about what health services are provided in the south of the county, in particular, and where they are located. There is an existing health estate in Ludlow. Ludlow Community Hospital has a lot of space after the closure of wards and the maternity unit.

The debate over health resources in south west Shropshire comes at a period when NHS resources locally and across the county are stretched to the limit. Future Fit (now called the Hospitals Transformation Programme) was meant to reorganise hospital services across the county, but that transformation has become unaffordable with costs rising above £500 million.

Heather Kidd, Shropshire Councillor for Chirbury and Worthen says:

“We understand that Shropshire Community Health Trust (ShropCom) is intending to bring forward three options for the future of the county’s five Community Hospitals and Minor Injury Units in January 2023.

“The impact of any of these options could be huge. We worry in particular that changes could affect the relationship between GPs and the community hospitals.

“We need the earliest and most thorough consultation on any proposals. “We need the earliest and most thorough consultation on any proposals. Bishop’s Castle Community Hospital was closed without consultation and the local community was very upset. The hospital reopened when ShropCom admitted it had got it wrong – but without the step down beds we need and few services. We don’t want any repeat of problems like that.”

Tracey Huffer Shropshire Councillor for Ludlow East says:

“The uncertainty of the future of Ludlow Community Hospital is causing upset with staff. ShropCom has been on the site measuring up the estate and openly talking about selling some of the site. I am concerned that this will make it more difficult to keep and attract staff to Ludlow. Staff are already stretched, with some covering long shifts. If there are not enough staff to run a facility, it will close.

“That could mean that health services in Ludlow will close at a time when many more homes are being built.

“I also worry that the relationship between local GPs and Ludlow Community Hospital could be lost under the new proposals. What can be better if you have a stay in hospital than being treated by your own GP? We need to preserve that relationship.”

Andy Boddington, Shropshire Councillor for Ludlow North says:

“The grandiose Future Fit scheme once included plans for revitalisation of health services in market towns under a scheme known as Community Fit. Those plans included Rural Urgent Care Centres in the larger market towns.

“That’s all been abandoned under the Hospitals Transformation Programme.

“There is real danger that community hospitals will become ill-served outposts of the two main hospitals. And if they are unable to provide a service, they will close leaving rural dwellers having to travel across the county for basic diagnostics and treatment, and post hospital care.”

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