New reports back Telford A&E downgrade

Princess Royal Hospital A&E will become a new Urgent Care Centre under the plans Credit: PA

Health bosses in Shropshire say a new emergency department for the region should be based in Shrewsbury and not Telford.

At a public meeting in December it was decided an independent review would be carried out after protests from campaigners who wanted emergency services to remain at Telford’s Princess Royal Hospital.

Under the plans to reconfigure healthcare in a project known as “Future Fit,” a new state-of-the-art emergency centre would be based at Shrewsbury alongside a new Women and Children’s Centre, replacing the £30m building at the Princess Royal site which opened in 2014. Telford’s A&E would be replaced with a “24/7 urgent care centre” which health bosses said would be able to deal with most ailments currently dealt with in the A&E department.

The independent review, which is due for publication, has ruled that the process to decide the location of the emergency department was carried out correctly.

An additional report looked at the implications of moving Women and Children’s services back to Shrewsbury so soon after it was relocated to Telford.

Simon Freeman, Accountable Officer for Shropshire Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG) and David Evans, Chief Officer for Telford and Wrekin CCG, said:

“We believe strongly that no-change is not an option if we are to provide safe and sustainable hospitals. The broad consensus today was that there is nothing in the independent reports that materially affects the decision to go to public consultation...It is important to note that this is not a final decision, but a recommendation to go forward to public consultation to gather public views across Shropshire, Telford and Wrekin and Powys on the proposals.”

Shrewsbury and Telford Hospitals Trust which runs both hospitals says change is not an option as it does not have enough doctors to staff two emergency units. The hospital trust has been preparing for a possible overnight closure of Telford’s A&E over recruitment fears.

A&E department at The Princess Royal in Shrewsbury Credit: ITV Central

Telford & Wrekin Council say the announcement shows the future of the area’s hospital services has been “pre-determined” with “lip-service” being paid to the public.

The council claims that the report states that moving the Women and Children’s Centre to Shrewsbury would cost £55 million less than three years after it moved to Telford at a cost of £28million.

Cllr Shaun Davies said: “We’ve constantly said this idea made no sense but moving a service so soon after opening at almost twice the price simply beggars belief...We understand the strong desire to make decisions quickly. But it is also in everyone’s interests to ensure that the right decisions are taken based on an objective assessment of the evidence. Future Fit, despite an independent review, still sadly does not do this. We have no choice but to consider all options available to us to ensure that any final decision is reached properly and is not simply a pre-determined one.”

The recommendations are now expected to go before a joint meeting of both Telford and Shropshire Clinical Commissioning Groups on 10th August where it is expected a date for public consultation will be discussed. Both groups insist no decisions have yet been made.