Was expecting news of an announcement tomorrow. But it’s in the Times today. So updated my post
Over the last ten years ( at least) I have been involved in active discussion about what has to be done to deliver a sustainable hospital structure to serve Shropshire and Mid Wales. In fact, I have known roughly what was needed to be done for over 40 yrs ago. A squash playing team colleague, who was also a brilliant Shropshire consultant used to berate me between games about the strategic madness of building a new hospital in Telford to serve Shropshire and Mid Wales in the first place. The area simply did not have the population to sustain two comprehensive District General Hospitals in the long term. He knew I was involved in local public affairs and wanted me to become involved. Paul died young. I hope he’d be pleased with the effort I’ve put in. It is an irony that there’s a Paul Brown Ward at the Princess Royal in memory of the great man.
The population of Shropshire and Mid Wales is about 500,000 and will sustain only one major secondary care hospital. Because of the historic and unwise decision to build the Princess Royal, the only feasible way forward today is to accept the current position and run the two hospitals as one unit operating on two sites, with ‘emergency care’ at one and ‘planned care’ at the other. A new hospital to replace both (which most of us would really prefer) is off the wall expensive. We have known all this for years. Our hospital services have suffered because we have not faced up to the difficult ‘political’ decisions needed. Millions of precious NHS resources have been squandered as a consequence of ‘political posturing’, sometimes blindly refusing to accept reality. But at long long last, the end is in sight. It’s taken a lot of lobbying and argument to reach today’s position. It’s also been frustrating enough to test the patience of a saint.
The UK Government has now decided that NHS England will allocate the around £300 million needed to transform one hospital (recommended to be the Royal Shrewsbury Hospital) into a centre for Emergency Care (a’hot’ emergency care hospital) and Theo
Other (recommended to be Telford’s Princess Royal Hospital) into a centre for planned care. This will be the biggest investment by NHS England this year. It will be a massive Gov’t commitment to Shropshire and Mid Wales. Everyone who has been involved and stuck with it will be hugely satisfied. After the announcement of the funding, , there will be an implementation process. The first step will be for the local Clinical Commissioning Groups to go out to a 12 week public consultation from about early May - with the above arrangement as their ‘preferred option’. If the public support the ‘preferred option’ (and it would be unthinkable not to) the project design and tendering processes will begin. I can see no reason why we cannot anticipate “diggers in the ground” early next year.
This is what should happen, and what I expect to happen.. Over the 12 week consultation period I will be arranging public meetings around Montgomeryshire to explain what has been a quite incredible journey, over many years, to reach the current position. And how important it is that all of us who want to see a sustainable NHS in Shropshire and Mid Wales actually turn out to vote.