Future Fit’s unexplained delays undermine confidence in process
The leader of Telford & Wrekin Council is seeking an urgent explanation as to why the public consultation on the future of the area’s hospitals’ services appears to have stalled.
In mid-August, the Telford & Wrekin and Shropshire Clinical Commission Groups backed going ahead with the consultation this autumn.
This followed them supporting the pre-consultation business case by the NHS ‘Future Fit’ team. The preferred option for consultation would see the Women and Children’s Centre move from Telford’s Princess Royal Hospital to Shrewsbury and the downgrade of Telford’s A&E department to an Urgent Care Centre.
The boss of the area’s hospitals had said that the consultation must start by September but there is currently no firm indication of when, or if, this will start.
Questions about the reasons for this latest delay were raised at a meeting of the area’s Joint Health Overview Scrutiny Committee which met last Thursday (2 November).
Cllr Shaun Davies said after the meeting: “Future Fit has once again failed to deliver – that they can’t hit their own date to start public consultation is just another indication of a process with more holes than sieve.
“Why this delay when a few months we were told the consultation couldn’t wait because emergency services needed these changes – changes that will in reality take years to implement?
“I suspect it’s because the Future Fit so-called business case is being put under extreme scrutiny and they’re having to rapidly rewrite it because it doesn’t stack up.
“We have said all along that the preferred option which includes moving the £28 million Women and Children’s Centre opened at the Princess Royal Hospital just 3 years ago, makes no sense and the case for this is fundamentally flawed.
“It seems some of our concerns – particularly around whether the £311 million cost of the preferred option can even be afforded – are shared elsewhere in the NHS.
“This Council has been very clear about our grave concerns around the whole process we believe is flawed but we’ve been brushed away. Yet they now seem significant enough to cause further 11th hour delays to a process that couldn’t wait to start.
"Future Fit has already cost more than £3 million and taken years. This latest delay and addition to costs will just further undermine public confidence in a process already lacking any shred of credibility.”