Met with Adam Cairns and John Davies, Chief Executive and Chair of the Shrewsbury and Telford NHS Hospitals Trust today. Subject under discussion was the reconfiguration of hospital services in Shropshire. Matters to Montgomeryshire because we don't have a DGH, and most people see the Shrewsbury and Telford Hospitals as their 'local' hospital for emergency and elective treatment. And Telford is another 20/30 minutes further away from us.
Perhaps the most contentious aspect of the proposals is the bringing together of paediatric services (currently on both sites) into a £28 million spanking new purpose-built children's unit at Telford. Not surprisingly this move has angered the people of Montgomeryshire (including me). About 800 of us turned out at 3 public meetings earlier this year to tell the Trust that we were strongly opposed to their plan. The Trust took not one blind bit of notice and went ahead with their proposal anyway. It currently awaits formal approval. At the public meetings, Adam Cairns said that he would consider a 24 hour Paediatric Assessment Unit (PAU) at Shrewsbury (as a sort of concession) but it has now been made clear that this is not to be. The PAU will be closing at 10.00pm. Most of our meeting today was about this issue. Let me tell you what was said.
The Chief Exec conceded that he had said he would look at the 24 hour proposal at the public meetings in Montgomeryshire. However, the idea was roundly condemned by all his advisors - the official Assessment Panel, the Trust's paediatricians, and even those who were opposed to the principle of the move to Telford. It seems that there would be very little practical point. In most cases, children will be taken direct to Telford by ambulance (if its obviously serious) or to the nearest A & E Dep't - where they would either be assessed as able to go home or again taken direct to the new unit in Telford. In any case, on average there are only a total of 3 cases per night after 10.00 in both hospitals. All a PAU would achieve is to tie up paediatric consultants in a unit without patients. Don't blame the messenger. This is what I was told today.
So that's the official line. However, the trust has agreed to hold another round of meetings to update the public about what stage their proposals have reached - in Llanidloes, Newtown and Welshpool this autumn. I hope these meetings are on days when I am not tied to Westminster. More importantly I hope those who attend these meetings will challenge the Trust on their proposals and the reasons they give to justify them. Montgomeryshire parents are going to take some convincing.