Longish post. Hugely important issue for Montgomeryshire. Two hours today locked in discussion with Shrewsbury MP, Daniel Kawszynski and Chief Executive of the Shrewsbury and Telford NHS Hospitals Trust, Tom Taylor. I'd asked for the meeting. Needed to get my head around the complexities of delivery of acute health services in Shropshire and Mid Wales. This issue really matters to the people of Montgomeryshire. We don't have a District General Hospital of our own anywhere in Powys. The Royal Shrewsbury Hospital is our local A & E centre. Let me outline the background to this issue.
There are four main bodies involved in delivery of health care in Shropshire. Two service commissioners - a) The Shropshire Primary Care Trust, and b) The Telford and Wrekin Primary Care Trust. And two service providers - a) The Shrewsbury and Telford NHS Hospitals Trust, and b) The Robert Jones and Agnes Hunt NHS Orthopaedic Hospital Trust. About a year ago, these four bodies agreed to review the overall delivery of services across Shropshire and Mid Wales, and put forward proposals for reorganising them from around 2012/13 onwards. The most contentious aspect of these proposals involves the location of serious A & E services on a single site, either Shrewsbury or Telford - rather than on both sites as is currently the position. The favoured site is Shrewsbury, a decision which has quite understandably caused a conflagration of objection in Telford. Incredibly, there has been almost no reaction in Montgomeryshire at all. I've never seen such rampant complacency. The whole of Powys and Shrewsbury had better wake up, and wake up pretty damn quickly, or the huge well-organised campaigns already underway in Telford will lead to the recommendations being reversed, and A & E services being removed from Shrewsbury.
So what do Daniel K and I want to happen. Firstly, we believe that it would be sensible to delay the change for as long as possible. The impetus behind the proposed change is to ensure that the service remains clinically safe. The only way to avoid implementing the change would be the transfer of spending within the Shropshire NHS into the recruitment of more consultants - because this is where the problem lies. More are needed, (to provide the same service) because of the introduction of the Working Time Directive, and today's increased specialisation by consultants. The current intention is that a consultation on the proposals will be held in early November. Our message was that this should be delayed if possible. However, we realise that the consultation may well go ahead. So our second objective will be to try to arrange a meeting between representatives of Powys Council, Powys LHB, Shropshire County Council, and the Shrewsbury Council as soon as possible - to try to instill some urgency into the case for retention of A & E services at 'our hospital' in Shrewsbury. So its 'wake up Powys' - before its too late.