The Leader of Telford & Wrekin Council is calling on health bosses to follow the NHS’ own new Long Term Plan over the future of hospital services and respect the will of the people as they prepare to meet later this month.
The Clinical Commissioning Groups (CCGs) for Shropshire and Telford and Wrekin who pay for health services in the county will decide the next move over ‘Future Fit’ at their meeting on 29 January.
It follows last year’s consultation into proposals for one of the area’s two main hospitals to site planned care (hospital treatments by appointment) and for the other to concentrate on emergency care and, with it, the consultant-led Women and Children’s Centre and one full 24/7 A&E.
With two options to choose from, in Future Fit’s consultation last summer the public overwhelmingly backed the option for emergency care to be based at Telford’s Princess Royal Hospital. This went against Future Fit’s preference for it to be at Royal Shrewsbury Hospital.
This long awaited meeting of the CCGs also comes just days after the NHS unveiled its Long Term plan which states the main focus should be on spending more on community-based services to improve healthcare to the public while reducing the pressure on hospitals.
The Council says that Future Fit’s Option Two which would put the emergency centre at the Princess Royal Hospital would cost around £62 million less. As the funding for Future Fit would be a loan, not a grant, the Council argues that the additional cost of paying it back – can then be put towards the type of community services highlighted in the NHS Long Term plan.
Cllr Davies said: “Future Fit has only ever put forward two options. We argued for the option that delivered the same services for everybody in Telford and Wrekin, Shropshire and mid Wales but for far less cost. We argued that, by keeping the Women and Children’s Centre in Telford alongside emergency care and a full 24/7 A&E, less money would be needed to upgrade hospital buildings. The costs of paying back that extra £62 million can go on community health services to keep people out of hospital in the first place.
“The public agreed with us and showed their support for this option. Yet Future Fit has ploughed on arguing the case for its more expensive option, costing millions pounds more on unnecessary moves such as taking the Women and Children’s Centre out of Telford just four years after spending £28million building it.
“Then earlier this month, the Government and the NHS nationally launched the NHS Long Term Plan. This says more should be spent on health services in the community to help prevent unnecessary hospital stays and premature deaths from conditions such as lung and heart disease.
“The NHS Long Term Plan calls for things to be done differently, for local councils such as ours to work together with NHS organisations, other partners and the public to develop strategies for the next five years.
“Instead Future Fit wants to ignore this and carry on wasting money on hospital buildings when a cheaper option that gives the same services is there allowing so much more could to be done with the £312 million borrowing that Future Fit’s preferred option will need.
“To plough on with its own preference makes no sense. It goes against the will of the people, the very people the NHS Plan should work with. It goes against the NHS Plan itself.
“It simply makes no sense; something I repeatedly have said over the last 4 years and have called on the Government through the Health Secretary to intervene.
“The Government would be writing the £312 million cheque, giving health bosses here the financial loan.
“This money must be spent wisely to provide the best possible health service in line with the NHS’ future plans.
“I call again on the Secretary of State for Health to step in to make sure it is.”