Future Fit is the name for the plans to close one of Shropshire’s A&Es. The Future Fit team are running a large campaign to convince Shropshire and Telford residents to back one or other of two unattractive options, pitting Telford and East Shropshire against Shrewsbury and the west into Powys. Which is it to be?
The Green Party believes this is a false choice and is urging local people to take a keen personal interest in the future of their emergency health care services. Special information events are being organised to explain why the Green Party, together with Shropshire Defend Our NHS, are calling on people to say ‘NO’.
Experience in other places shows that when one A&E unit closes, the surviving A&E department becomes overwhelmed with extra patients. Far from securing patient safety these exercises in cost and staff reduction add dangerously to travel times and lead to more queues for treatment.
Other hospital management groups have tried it. Places like Enfield in North London, and Chorley and Burnley in Lancashire, have all had A&E departments close with predictable results: longer journey and waiting times, patients left in ambulances and hospital corridors and worse patient outcomes.
Shrewsbury and Telford Hospital NHS Trust say that closing one A&E will make it easier to attract consultants as new money will be found for a new facility. We don’t know whether they are right to claim this. What we do know is that the Royal College of Emergency Medicine are clear in stating that staff recruitment is not a good reason for closure of an A&E.
In order to alleviate the predicted overcrowding, the Trust’s management argue that some of those who currently attend A&E will instead be treated more locally in their communities. This statement might have greater validity if the Future Fit proposal included monies to expand community services, but it doesn’t – the only new money is for construction costs. Whether it is Shrewsbury or Telford that gets the chop, cuts are proposed in the number of nurses, therapists and other staff.
Staggeringly, the Future Fit proposals do not even address the additional pressure and cost the changes would place on the Ambulance Service.
Our NHS in Shropshire is not getting the money it needs to continue to provide the good and safe service residents deserve. This is the issue which needs addressing, not the false choice between one bad option or another. We need an NHS that works for Shropshire and, as a wealthy nation, we can afford it. This is why, whatever political party you support, you are invited to attend one of the information sessions we are running on behalf of the Green Party with the support of Shropshire Defend Our NHS.
The Future Fit consultation questionnaire can be completed here (opens in new window).
The Trust’s 44 page briefing document can be read here (opens in new window).
Cllr Julian Dean, Shropshire County Councillor (Green Party): firstname.lastname@example.org
Julia Farrington, Green Party Campaigner: email@example.com