Council leaders to tackle Health Secretary about “disarray” in local NHS

The leaders of Telford & Wrekin and Shropshire councils are to meet Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt MP tomorrow (10 Jan) to express their concern over the “disarray” in the local NHS.

Council leaders to tackle Health Secretary about “disarray” in local NHS

They will also highlight the risk this poses to local communities.

At the meeting in London, organised by Wrekin MP Mark Pritchard , Councillors Shaun Davies and Malcolm Pate will be stressing serious shortcomings in an overarching plan to transform and make financially sustainable NHS healthcare across Shropshire and Telford and Wrekin.

The plan, called the Sustainability and Transformation Plan (STP), was published before Christmas and recognised by NHS England as focussing too much on emergency hospital services reconfiguration on which the county’s two Clinical Commissioning Groups (CCGs) couldn’t agree when they met in December. The STP was also criticised by the leaders of both councils who said it didn’t address community-based care and keeping people out of hospital.

The two council leaders will tell Jeremy Hunt that investment in community-based approaches could substantially reduce demand on hospital services and ultimately save the NHS money by keeping people well.

They will also stress that Shropshire CCG being under 'Directions' and needing to save just over £20 million could put community approaches at risk due to potential disinvestment in community interventions that could lead to greater savings further down the line.

Shaun Davies, Leader of Telford & Wrekin Council, said: "We have long argued that the ‘Future Fit’ reconfiguration of hospital services has been a farce.

"We have always been clear on the need to have two A&E departments serving Shropshire and Telford and Wrekin and this area should receive fair funding for a properly resourced health service. Even in the unlikely event that decisions on the reconfiguration of hospitals reach a conclusion in the near future it will likely take at least three years to implement any changes.

"We will be calling on the Secretary of State to call draw resources from neighbouring  health economies to ensure that both hospitals and both A&E are maintained until the future of our health service in Shropshire and Telford and Wrekin  is assured. Failure to do so could lead to terminal consequences for some people who will be unable to get treatment.

"Telford and Wrekin has a growing population; the  fastest growth being in the 65+ age group. This, coupled with  the significant areas of deprivation in the borough,  means the need for Council-funded adult social care will continue to grow. The government  must ensure that this need is properly funded now and in the future."

Malcolm Pate, Leader of Shropshire Council, said: "Shropshire’s local NHS is in disarray and I welcome the opportunity to make Jeremy Hunt personally aware of our very real concerns about current and future delivery of healthcare services in Shropshire.

"The approach in our STP of redesigning and investing in acute services before community services makes no sense. It is the wrong way around - putting the cart before the horse. And the process of redesigning hospital services has been cumbersome, costly, ineffective and has become a point of ridicule locally. There is no confidence in the process or leadership locally. This needs immediate external, government intervention to properly set out and implement a process of change, engagement, consultation and implementation."

Ahead of the meeting with Jeremy Hunt, Shropshire Council will be meeting with Marcus Jones MP, minister for local government, to discuss concerns about the funding of adult social care.

Councillor Pate said: "The costs of adult social car has no relationship to local taxation, either Council Tax or business rates. Shropshire has a 30% higher than the national average population over the age of 65. The Shropshire economy is strong based on agriculture and small businesses who demand high infrastructure and maintenance from the Council but contribute no business rates. The government must fund the costs of social care directly and on a per capita basis matching resources to need.”

The STP outlines how the NHS plans to transform and deliver financially sustainable health services in Shropshire and Telford & Wrekin, including hospital and community services.