Shrewsbury and North Shropshire Green Party campaigners, along with many others, are opposed to Future Fit. Below are some of the details of why we think this scheme is bad news for Shropshire. The Public Consultation is about to begin, running from May to July.
The questions we will be asked are skewed in favour of the Future Fit. There is no "Keep both A&Es, use the money to fund frontline services, not shiny new buildings" option. Instead we are asked to choose between Telford or Shrewsbury losing its Emergency Department. But we think it is vital that the public do have their say. We will encourage people to use the comment boxes to call for the money to go on services and keeping both A&Es.
Green Party members are working with others in Shropshire, Telford and Wrekin Defend Our NHS (SDONHS) to roll out an ambitious county wide programme of meetings to reach as many communities as possible during the consultation period. It doesn’t matter what size or who the audience is; these can be in community centres, church halls or front rooms; they could be public meetings or meetings with WIs, sports clubs, trade unions or any other group. The SDONHS campaign will make sure you get a speaker to explain our case, and copies of campaign materials. You can either get in touch with the Green Party organisers for this campaign, Julian Dean and Julia Farrington, or you can contact SDONHS direct. Details are below.
The end of March saw a huge fanfare of celebrations from local MPs and health managers declaring that Shropshire is getting £312m for the local NHS. But not all is as it seems.
The money is for "Future Fit"; a plan to reorganise Shropshire’s NHS in order to run it on a lower budget: £135m less money for the NHS every single year. It’s a cuts programme. The plan started out – some years ago - with promises to develop and expand local services, improve care at home, build local centres across the county for everything except for the most extreme cases that would then go to A&E. Then, so they argued, the county would only need one super-duper Emergency Department. But since this scheme was dreamed up all the good bits have been stripped out, and we are now left with an A&E closing, a hospital being dumbed down – and with Shropdoc and other local services at risk alongside these attacks. The "investment" is about paying for massive cuts.
Meanwhile, behind the façade of £312m lie plans to cut 300 nurses, reduce the number of therapy staff by around 20%, and cut the number of medical beds by more than 10%. The crisis of this winter is set to be much, much worse in the future.
The Green Party would love to see excellent local services, with preventative medicine taking the lead, and with hospitals carrying much less of the burden of keeping us healthy. But this is not what is on offer. We are facing the biggest con of a cuts exercise ever seen in the county.
And there was something else they didn’t mention in the tweets and soundbites: the treasury is not actually providing all the money. Some of it – and no one seems to know how much – will have to be raised commercially. The plan is to raise money through something called "Project Phoenix" – a kind of PFI Mark 2. This is about saddling the local NHS with huge debts for decades to come.
We need BOTH our A&Es, BOTH our hospitals – and enough funding for decent health and social care for all of us.