A leading health official has said he wants to see the Future Fit process “push on”.
However, Simon Wright, chief executive of Shrewsbury and Telford Hospitals Trust, declined to give his personal opinion on a recommendation for A&E facilites for the whole of Shropshire to be based at the Royal Shrewsbury Hospital. Nor did he give his view on a report published after an independent review into the process.
He said: “I recognise the report and recommendation. What I will be looking for is a formal consultation with the public, like this evening, when the decision-making is given to the public. I am looking forward to having dialogue with the public and explaining fully the benefits that will come from the changes, which will be significant.”
The recommendation would see Telford’s Princess Royal Hospital lose its A&E services. Instead it would have a 24/7 urgent care centre, the majority of day case surgery, planned orthopaedic surgery, outpatients, diagnostics and a midwife-led unit.
The Royal Shrewsbury Hospital would have a 24/7 urgent care centre, and complex surgery, outpatients and diagnostics, women and children’s centre, alongside a central A&E department.
Mr Wright said it is hoped NHS England will give the go-ahead for the plans on October 2, so consultation could begin the following day.
He said: “It usually runs for 12 weeks but the committee may take into consideration Christmas, so may extend it.”
The joint committee of Shropshire, and Telford and Wrekin Clinical Commissioning Groups (CCGs) met on Thursday to discuss Future Fit and the independent review commissioned after Telford and Wrekin Council questioned the process and the recommendation. They agreed unimously to support the preferred option and to move towards public consultation.
David Evans, chief officer for Telford and Wrekin CCG and Simon Freeman, accountable officer for Shropshire CCG, issued a joint statement saying: “We recognise this is an issue which attracts strong emotions. We heard people expressing their feelings here this evening, as we have at many previous meetings.
“The NHS Future Fit clinical model has been designed by local clinicians who back the programme. We know people want us to make decisions which move us towards a public consultation to allow them to have their say.
“We have done this based on the evidence in front of us, which we have considered objectively in an open and honest way.
“This process has always been about making decisions in the best interests of all patients who rely on these services, whether they are from Telford & Wrekin, Shropshire or Mid Wales.
”It is not just about emergency services, but also about planned care which accounts for a great majority of occasions when patients visit one of our hospitals.”