Future Fit process flaws risk misleading public in hospitals consultations
Telford & Wrekin Council has today spelled out to the boss of Future Fit why it believes that the programme’s appraisal of the options for hospital services in Telford and Shrewsbury is flawed, unfair and open to legal challenge.
In a letter to David Evans and the leaders of the area’s two CCGs, Council Leader Shaun Davies and Managing Director Richard Partington ask them to consider very carefully the issues raised before moving ahead with the process.
They say it is now for Mr Evans to decide how Future Fit moves forward and fears that if the recommendation on the table goes for public consultation, because this is based on flawed evidence, this consultation would be misleading.
Cllr Davies said: “The ball is now in David’s court – we have been very clear in outlining our concerns.
“He must know whether he has run a proper process or not and the answers to the substantial issues and concerns we have raised.
“We want to avoid a judicial review if possible.
“However, this will depend on how Future Fit responds to our concerns and if they are certain that their process is fair and legally robust.”
The letter outlines numerous concerns about the appraisal process including:
- · Flawed methodology and a weighting skewed at least 19:1 in favour of non financial arguments, when these are supposed to carry equal weight as financial arguments
- · Flaws in the non-financial appraisal scoring process, quality of information presented to the appraisal panel and instructions and training given to the panel
The Council has also requested further information from Future Fit, which when provided, may raise further areas of concern.
In late September it was revealed that Future Fit’s preferred option would be to move the Women & Children’s Centre and A&E services from the Princess Royal Hospital in Telford to the Royal Shrewsbury. However the process has now been paused until November after concerns raised by Telford & Wrekin Council.
Cllr Davies adds: “Future Fit’s decision will affect access to hospital services for hundreds of thousands of people in our borough and huge swathes of north, east and southern Shropshire for which the PRH is also their hospital.
“I am sure the public expect such a decision, which has already taken more than three years to get to this point, to be taken on a comprehensive, independent, objective and evidence-based process –I have grave concerns that so far it is not.
“Our position remains clear - we want to see A&E services maintained at both hospitals and the Women’s & Children’s Unit kept at PRH. We are urging the NHS and the Secretary of State for Health to do all they can to make this happen.
“I think the public will also rightly ask why the Future Fit appraisal currently favours an option which costs £74 million more in construction at a time when Shrewsbury and Telford Hospitals Trust and Shropshire CCG both face huge deficits which only risk snowballing.
“It’s equally as baffling as Future Fit’s plan to move the Women’s & Children’s Unit from the PRH just two years after it opened at a cost of £28 million. It makes no sense.”
“The NHS identified PRH as the preferred location for Women’s & Children’s Centre given the area has a growing population of 0-19 year olds and women of child-bearing age whereas in Shropshire these populations are declining.”