The Future Fit hospital programme has ground to a halt – now it must have a complete overhaul

Meanwhile elsewhere in Shropshire…

by Councillor Tracey Huffer.

Recently the team overseeing the Future Fit programme to reshape announced that it is deferring a decision on the future of A&E services in Shropshire. After more than two years of work, the question of whether the county will be reduced to a single accident and emergency centre at either Shrewsbury or Telford, or whether the current two A&Es will continue. It is now likely to be the autumn of 2016 before the Future Fit board makes this vital decision.

It is very frustrating that no decision has been reached. But it is also an opportunity to undertake a root and branch review of the entire Future Fit scheme (as I called for earlier this week). Too often Future Fit has had its head in the clouds, pursuing dream projects like a new super-hospital between Shrewsbury and Telford. That was never affordable. Because Future Fit didn’t have its feet on the ground, it has failed to recognise the contributions that community hospitals like Ludlow’s can make.

The delay to Future Fit gives an opportunity to change the way that the programme is run. It should be more practical and less theoretical. It should build on the resources we have rather than trying to reinvent things from scratch. Otherwise, Future Fit will only grind to a halt again.

I doubt we will see Future Fit continue in its current form. One reason given for the delay is that the Shrewsbury and Telford NHS Trust is heading for a £23 million deficit. The Clinical Commissioning Groups say this must be cleared before Future Fit can proceed. But how long will that take? And surely, a long-term programme of hospital reform should not grind to halt because of temporary financial shortages?

The delay gives Shropshire Council an opportunity to lobby for retaining an A&E at the Royal Shrewsbury Hospital. Telford and Wrekin council is lobbying hard for an A&E to be retained at the Princesses Royal Hospital. It has even launched a petition to keep the A&E at the PRH.

I am completely disappointed that Shropshire Council has sat on the fence time and time again and failed to back an A&E in Shrewsbury. It ducked the issue at the full council meeting last week, when both campaigner Joyce Brand and I asked questions. It is time for Shropshire Council to stand up for the county it represents

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Source: Shropshire Liberal Democrats