Monday, January 03, 2011

Access to hospital from Montgomeryshire.

For best part of a century, Montgomeryshire's hospital services (apart from 'community' NHS care) have been provided over the border in Shropshire - at different sites in Shrewsbury, at Telford since The Princess Royal was opened, with orthopaedics at Gobowen. I remember huge objection to the Princess Royal being built. At the time, a squash playing colleague, the late Dr Paul Brown, was a leading consultant and we discussed the issue at length after our invariably ferocious battles on court. He was adamant that in time, Shropshire would not be able to afford two DGHs, and that the new hospital would lead to the closure of the Royal Shrewsbury. Well, he was wrong about the closure (I think) but he was right about two hospitals being unaffordable. We are currently midst a consultation on effectively merging the two hospitals into one on two sites.

There is no alternative - if services are not going to be lost to Shropshire altogether. Already, and recently, gynaecological cancer surgery and upper-gastro cancer surgery has gone, and more could follow. There are several reasons for this. One is adoption of the EU legislation enforcing a Working Time Directive, which stipulates that junior doctors must work shorter hours. Another is that different training regimes are producing more 'specialist' consultants. I believe that immigration restrictions are also making it more difficult to recruit skilled staff, and then there's the extra costs involved in running two hospitals duplicating services. All of these changes add up to a service which is unaffordable as presently configured.

While much of the service we are used to will remain unchanged, there is a plan to implement some radical changes. A plan for this change has been developed by the managing Shrewsbury and Telford NHS Hospitals Trust. Public consultation began in early December, and will end on 14th March. Public meetings will be held in Feb., and I'm pressing for at least two in Montgomeryshire. If you want a consultation document to read, and respond to, ring 01952 580478 or 0800 032 1107. I will write another post during the next few days outlining the proposed changes. Go on. Telephone and ask for a document. This is important.

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