A Government minister will visit Shropshire and witness the county’s healthcare crisis first hand after sustained calls by MP Helen Morgan for action to be taken.
Health Minister Edward Argar committed to visiting the area at a meeting with local MPs and health bosses, where it was also confirmed that a review will be held into Shropshire’s health crisis by the body responsible for overseeing care in the region.
Helen Morgan MP said: “I am happy that the Government finally appears to be starting to recognise the crisis facing healthcare in Shropshire after my repeated calls for action.
“It is clear that the 12-hour waits for ambulances and day-long hospital handover delays are not the fault of one organisation but the result of several factors. That’s why Government support is urgently needed.
“I am grateful to Mr Argar to committing to visiting Shropshire and hope that this will help emphasise the scale of the problem and the need for change.
“Every week I am contacted by families whose loved ones have suffered as a result of ambulance, hospital and GP delays and the situation is not only unfair to them but it is also unfair to the hard-working ambulance crews, doctors and nurses having to cope with unprecedented pressure.”
The Shropshire Telford and Wrekin Integrated Care Board review will focus on all three key aspects of care including pre-hospital and community care, hospital care, and care after discharge.
A summit will also be held between Shropshire’s MPs and key health leaders to ensure action is taken to reduce the huge delays patients are facing with ambulances, hospitals and GP surgeries.
The meeting on Wednesday was organised after North Shropshire MP Helen Morgan held an adjournment debate in the House of Commons to raise the issue of Ambulance Response Times earlier this year.
West Midlands Ambulance Service estimates that every day in Shropshire around half of all ambulances on shift in the county are unable to respond to incidents because they are queueing waiting to handover patients to hospitals. Last month one patient in the region waited 23 hours in an ambulance to be moved inside.
A man with a suspected stroke has been forced to wait nine hours for an ambulance while a 92-year-old woman faced an eight-hour wait after falling, breaking her leg and cutting her head open.
Meanwhile hospital beds continue to be blocked by patients who no longer need hospital treatment but cannot be discharged due to a lack of available social care. The number of patients medically fit for discharge but still stranded in wards at Shrewsbury and Telford hospitals is estimated to have doubled since before the coronavirus pandemic.
And the pressure on emergency care and paramedics is made worse due to the difficulty many people have securing a GP appointment in Shropshire. With long waits to speak to a doctor, many end up visiting A&E instead.