I’m accepting what has become inevitable. Despite being desperate to see the public consultation on the reform of Shropshire NHS services going ahead, I reluctantly accept that it would better that it should be rescheduled for early in the New Year.
The Future Fit Programme Board, which was set up to reform NHS secondary care serving Shropshire & Mid Wales, has been expected to announce the anticipated public consultation for months. For a variety of reasons it hasn’t happened. I now think we’ve reached a date so near to Christmas that the consultation should now be scheduled to begin early next year, and should be limited to the statutory required period of 12 weeks rather than the previously expected 14 weeks.
I should add that my suggestion is against a background of disappointment that the public consultation has not already been launched. However I do remain confident that work on the £200 million reform will begin in the summer of 2018.
Here are a few public comments I’ve been willing to make.
“I am hugely frustrated and disappointed that the public consultation on the reform of NHS Hospitals that serve Shropshire and Mid Wales has not already begun. But it’s time to face reality, and outline a clear achievable programme for public consultation on the way forward.
“It remains possible that public consultation could begin in December, but it would be against a background of Christmas when public attention would be on other things. It would also have to be a 14 week consultation to take Christmas into account. It would therefore be more sensible to begin public consultation in January, which would need to last the statutory period of 12 weeks.
“Crucially, this public consultation will be based on a ‘Preferred Option’ that A&E would be based at the Royal Shrewsbury Hospital, including the most critical Women’s and Children’s Services. Non-emergency ‘Planned Care’ would be based at Telford’s Princess Royal Hospital. This ‘Preferred Option’ has already been unanimously agreed by the Future Fit Programme Board. It’s been my personal preferred option for the last 20 years.
“The only hurdle left now is confirmation that the approximately £200 million needed to fund the reform is made available by NHS England. I can see no reason why it shouldn’t be. I remain confident that the public consultation will support the location of a new A&E Unit at the Royal Shrewsbury, and that building work on site will begin next summer.”