Future Fit: Health leaders support moving towards consultation

Health leaders met yesterday evening to discuss the next steps towards providing safe and sustainable hospital services for patients from Shropshire, Telford & Wrekin and Mid Wales.

They agreed unanimously to support moving towards a public consultation on all clinically and financially viable options. This includes a preferred option of the Emergency Care site at the Royal Shrewsbury Hospital and Planned Care site at the Princess Royal Hospital.

This is not a final decision on the shape of hospital services and there are a number of steps before public consultation can begin.

The decision was made by a Joint Committee of NHS Shropshire CCG and NHS Telford & Wrekin CCG. The Joint Committee was formed of board members from the two CCGs, two independent clinical panel members who are senior hospital consultants, and an independent chair. All were voting members.

David Evans, Chief Officer for Telford and Wrekin CCG and Simon Freeman Accountable Officer for Shropshire CCG, said:

“This is a clear decision we have made to move towards consultation so the views of the public can be heard.

“We recognise this is an issue that attracts strong emotions and we heard people expressing their feelings here this evening, as we have at many previous meetings.

“The NHS Future Fit clinical model has been designed by local clinicians who back the programme. We know that people want us to make decisions that move us towards a public consultation to allow them to have their say. We have done this based on the evidence in front of us, which we have considered objectively in an open and honest way.

Following the Joint Committee, and in line with best practice, assurance will be sought from local scrutiny boards and the NHS England assurance processes prior to going to public consultation.

Independent clinical consultants on the Joint Committee have given assurance that the evidence they reviewed shows the process has been clinically led and is in the best interests of patients.

When a formal public consultation is launched, the CCGs will ask local people their views on which hospital would become the Emergency Care site and which hospital would become the Planned Care site.

Health leaders are also offering reassurance that under the proposals women and children would still receive the majority of care and treatment in the same place as they do now. It is vital however that women and children’s high risk services (when women and children need to stay in hospital overnight or need specialist care) are based alongside the Emergency Care site.

David Evans and Simon Freeman added:

“This process has always been about making decisions in the best interests of all the patients who rely upon these services, whether they are from Telford & Wrekin, Shropshire or Mid Wales.

“It is not just about emergency services, but also about planned care which accounts for the great majority of occasions when patients visit one of our hospitals.

“We would both like to pass on our thanks to everyone who contributed to the meeting. We would particularly like to thank the independent members whose expertise and experience has been greatly appreciated.”

Simon Wright, Chief Executive of The Shrewsbury and Telford Hospital (SaTH), said:

“It is incredibly important that the public are given an opportunity to shape healthcare in the region for future generations and we welcome this decision and the progress towards public consultation.

“It is no secret that workforce fragility is our biggest risk. Our services remain safe thanks to our wonderful hard-working staff that are prepared to work long hours and arduous on-call rotas, but the situation is not sustainable.

“We need to move forward and make our hospitals more attractive for people to come and work. I believe the new clinical services will do just that, and in turn that will allow us to improve patient care for the people of Shropshire, Telford & Wrekin and Mid Wales.”