Hoping to set aside some time to share my thoughts on this blog site again through summer recess. Lots of subjects to write about but today will return to one that has featured several times in the past few years - reform of the NHS secondary care system which serves Shropshire and Mid Wales. Should begin with a recap.
For many years, we have realised that changing patterns of healthcare has meant larger populations are needed to sustain a District General Hospital. The population of Shropshire and Mid Wales can no longer sustain its two DGHs, one located at Shrewsbury and the other at Telford. While the best solution would be to build one new DGH to replace them, it's simply too expensive. So the preferred solution is to merge the two hospitals, one to focus on 'emergency' care, and the other on 'planned' care. The 2 CCGs (Clinical Commissioning Groups) serving Shropshire and Mid Wales established The Future Fit Programme Board to recommend a way forward. Over 3years later (and costing millions of pounds) it made its recommendations before Christmas. The CCGs met and split 6/6 on a motion to accept the recommendation, and go out to public consultation on it. Total chaos. Local politics trumped clinical care (in my opinion). Been much effort getting the show back on the road. At last we expect progress on Monday at an important meeting of the Future Fit Programme Board.
Local health and social care partners will meet on Monday at a 'closed' meeting to consider next steps needed to transform hospital services for local patients in Shrewsbury, Telford and Wrekin and Mid Wales. The meeting will review the additional assurance work carried out, and decide whether the time is right for a public consultation on its recommendations. The 2 new reports are;
1) Additional analysis of potential changes to Women's and Children's services - taking in depth look at potential impact of changes to those services.
2) Independent review of the Future Fit Options Appraisal Process - looking at the assurance processes carried out so far.
Any recommendation made by the Future Fit Programme Board on Monday will be about whether the time is right to launch a full public consultation lasting 12 weeks. This recommendation would have to be approved by a joint committee of the Shropshire and Telford and Wrekin CCGs Board - with an independent Chair and key observers (hopefully to avoid the shambles we witnessed last December).
We are fast approaching a situation where the current NHS system serving Shropshire and Mid Wales breaks down. And there's no point shouting at SaTH (The Shrewsbury and Telford NHS Hospitals Trust). It's doing its best in difficult circumstances. The position is becoming desperate. We need agreement in order to ask Central Government for the reported £200 million needed for the capital works. Let's hope we see a decisive step forward taken on Monday.