Future Fit: Council Leader responds to Shrewsbury MP
The Leader of Telford & Wrekin Council has defended the decision to formally refer plans to shake-up hospital services to the Secretary of State for Health.
Cllr Shaun Davies has written to Daniel Kawczynski over the Council’s challenges to “Future Fit”; the NHS’ plans which would see Telford’s Princess Royal Hospital lose its 24/7 A&E and consultant-led Women and Children’s Centre to Shrewsbury.
Telford & Wrekin Council had previously challenged Future Fit’s decision-making process and recommendation and formally referred the matter to Health Secretary Matt Hancock MP who has asked an independent panel to look into further before making a decision.
In his letter, the MP for Shrewsbury and Atcham said: “… any further delay would put at risk the lives of patients …”
Councillor Davies responded by writing that the Independent Panel’s unusual move to ask questions directly of the NHS and Council “… reinforced my belief that the Council’s referral was a legitimate and important step for the Council to make.”
He added: “Had there been proper process in the first place it would have been completed by now. The fact is that it hasn’t and the delays to the Future Fit programme are due to the inadequacy of the programme itself associated with lack of financial modelling, necessary impact assessments and poorly carried out option appraisal processes, not the intervention of this Council in seeking the best outcome for people in Telford and Wrekin.
He corrected the Shrewsbury and Atcham MP’s claim that the government had “given” the health economy an investment of £312million to pay for the changes to the county’s two main hospitals, writing: “… they have been given permission to borrow this amount of capital …” which “… needs to be made in all of our interests as it saddles the local health economy with a multi-million pound repayment obligation for decades to come.”
Councillor Davies defended the challenges made to Future Fit and the decision to refer the matter to the Health Secretary and …” in answer to the MP’s request to respect the outcome, said: “I will continue to make decisions that are in the public interest …”
In a personal offer to the MP, Councillor Davies wrote: “Rather than continue to attack Telford & Wrekin Council both in public and in private – threatening our very existence, why don’t both Councils and all Shropshire MPs work to persuade the government to provide fair funding for Health and social care and, as the new Prime Minister said: ‘… fix the crisis in social care once and for all …’ Why don’t we come together and lobby for an investment and improvement package that means there is not a community who feels so undermined?”