Shropshire Council vows to support the safest and best health service for all Shropshire residents
‘Shropshire Council continues to ensure the whole of Shropshire receives the best and safest health services across the whole of the county.’
That pledge was made at Full Council on Thursday 17 December 2015, following the recent announcement of Telford and Wrekin Council plans to extend its public campaign to maintain 24-hour A&E in Telford.
The NHS ‘Future Fit’ programme, conducted jointly by Shropshire Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG) and Telford and Wrekin CCG, planned to have only a single Emergency Department in the near future – meaning either the Royal Shrewsbury Hospital A&E or the Princess Royal Hospital A&E in Telford could close, or provide a greatly reduced service.
Karen Calder, Shropshire Council’s Cabinet member for health, and Chair of Shropshire’s Health and Well-being Board, told fellow councillors at the meeting that she had ‘grave concerns’ about local authority neighbours spending tens of thousands of pounds of public money on the campaign.
“Future Fit is about delivering the best and safest solutions to ensure everyone in Shropshire has access to the right health service.
“There is far more choice available for communities living in the east of the county and closer to A&E services in Newcastle, Stoke, Wolverhampton and Kidderminster. However, for those communities in the west of Shropshire, and those Welsh counties bordering Shropshire who access Shropshire health services, the choice is far more limited.
“It is important for the public to understand that the Future Fit programme is being approached in a rational and transparent way that will take into consideration everybody within Shropshire’s, and Telford and Wrekin’s, health economy.
“The location of emergency services at Shropshire’s hospitals is a very significant issue for all Shropshire, and Telford and Wrekin, residents. Therefore, I am really concerned that Telford and Wrekin Council have taken this approach, which could mislead public perception and expectations for their residents.
“We clearly recognise the Future Fit programme needs to be led by clinicians, and are keen to allow the working group to develop the next stages of work without political interference. We have been reassured by our colleagues from both of the CCGs that Future Fit will continue to be a clinically-led process, which will not be influenced by external campaigns.”
Lee Chapman, Shropshire Council’s Cabinet member for adult services, added:
“We want to ensure that the Future Fit programme is fit for purpose, and that the health needs of Shropshire residents remain at the heart of any decision-making.
“The outcome of Future Fit will be dependent on sound and unbiased clinical evidence. Any decision that will be made about the future of hospital services must be in the best interest of all people across Shropshire, and Telford and Wrekin.
“We have stressed our concerns about Telford & Wrekin Council’s campaign. Not only do we feel this is a misappropriate use of council tax-payers money, but also seriously undermines the professional judgement of our clinical leaders and staff.”