Council renews commitment to fight hospital plans
Councillors at Telford and Wrekin Council have agreed to take steps to refer controversial hospital transformation plans to the government’s Independent Reconfiguration Panel in a bid to get the plans reconsidered.
At a Full Council Meeting on 10 November 2022, a motion restating the council’s opposition to the plans and the need for them to be changed was put forward by Councillor Andy Burford, Cabinet Member for Adult Social Care and Health and supported by elected members.
The move follows the approval, in September 2022, of the Strategic Outline Case by government to make changes to hospital services. This would see Telford’s main hospital, the Princess Royal, lose its 24-hour A&E and consultant-led care for women and children and become, primarily, a centre for planned care only.
Council leader, Councillor Shaun Davies (Labour) said: “Back in 2019, the then health secretary, Matt Hancock, approved plans to downgrade emergency services at the Princess Royal and move them to Shrewsbury.
“Since then, the world has changed almost beyond recognition. We’ve endured a global pandemic, we’re in the midst of a cost of living crisis and the man who took decisions on the future of our hospital is now living in an Australian jungle.
“The cost of delivering the plans approved by Matt Hancock and consulted on with the public are estimated at over £500m. The government has allocated just £312m for the work and with inflation now eating away at that budget too, what other vital services will be cut?
“The plans have never made sense for Telford and Wrekin and it looks more and more unlikely that they can bring about the changes needed to give people the access to health services they deserve”.
In the past few weeks, nearly 20,000 people have signed a letter to the new health secretary, Steve Barclay, to urge him to think again about the plans.
Councillor Andy Burford (Labour) said: “We are on the side of our residents and will keep on pushing to get these plans reviewed.
“If the current plans go ahead, they will see Telford become the largest town in England without a full A & E service at a time when the borough’s population is aging and growing faster than most areas across the country.
“The ‘A&E Local’ model that is being proposed is one which has been discredited by a number of clinical bodies.”
Councillor Angela McClements (Lab), who seconded the motion, said: “Right at the heart of this motion is the health and wellbeing of our residents. We must do all we can to seek the review and reversal of these proposals which downgrade our A&E to a so-called A&E Local, leaving this borough without the vital services we need.”
The council will now consider the steps required to refer hospital transformation plans to the Independent Reconfiguration Panel which is responsible for giving expert advice to ministers on proposed NHS reconfigurations or significant service change in England.
The Panel is chaired by Professor Sir Norman Williams with 15 members who have wide-ranging expertise in clinical healthcare, NHS management, patient involvement and representing the public.
People can find more information on the council’s campaign to give people in Telford and Wrekin a voice around hospital transformation plans at nhs4all.co.uk