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19.02.19

‘Bitterly disappointed’ council votes to refer shake-up of Shropshire hospital services to health secretary

Councillors at an emergency meeting at Telford and Wrekin Council have decided to refer the “harmful” and “fatally flawed” plans to shake-up hospital services in Shropshire to the health secretary Matt Hancock.

Clinical commissioners approved the reorganisation of hospital services in the region, dubbed ‘Future Fit’, at the end of January against a back drop of criticism from MPs and council leaders, with the trust behind the move saying it could now “begin to shape the future for all of our services.”

At an extraordinary meeting, Telford and Wrekin Council unanimously backed the referral to the health secretary, stating its primary reason for the referral is it believes the decision will be detrimental to health services in the borough.

The reorganisation will see the Princess Royal Hospital in Telford have its A&E department downgraded to an urgent care centre and its £28m purpose-built centre for women and children services opened in 2014 moved to the Royal Shrewsbury Hospital.

The CCGs backing the plan say it will provide a safer and better, more specialised service for patients, offering better value for money and securing £312m from the Treasury for the redevelopment of the hospitals.

But the council says NHS bosses have failed to engage with Telford residents and the Shropshire community, leading to a “fatally flawed” project, and MP Lucy Allan has also written to Hancock.

Telford and Wrekin Council said it has the power to make the referral as part of its scrutinising role, and the referral will now be considered by an independent panel who are then expected to make a recommendation to the health secretary.

The authority’s leader, Shaun Davies, said: “We have asked the government to act time and time again over the last five years.

“It’s bitterly disappointing we are having to drag the government to action using this legal tool which will take time and money. The health secretary should act immediately.”

The council added that it was “united in opposition” to the plans and will be informing the relevant CCGs of the council’s unanimous vote.

The trust overseeing the Future Fit shake-up, Shrewsbury and Telford Hospital NHS Trust, was placed into special measures by NHS Improvement in November and was rated ‘inadequate’ by the CQC over major concerns with its emergency department.

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