Health Secretary asks for assessment of Future Fit hospital proposals
Written by BBC News on March 23, 2019
The Health Secretary, Matt Hancock, has asked the Independent Referral Panel for an initial assessment on plans to downgrade the Accident and Emergency department at the Princess Royal Hospital and move its consultant-led Women and Children’s Centre to Shrewsbury, while Telford would become a centre for planned care.
This is the next stage of a referral process following a formal request from Telford and Wrekin Council for the Health Secretary to review the proposals, known as “Future Fit”, earlier this week.
The panel is expected to review the case in more detail and will report their findings back to the Health Secretary by the end of May.
The decision to change the way hospital services are delivered in Shropshire was made jointly by the Telford and Wrekin and Shropshire Clinical Commissioning Groups in January. They have responsibility for determining health service requirements in their areas.
Mr Hancock wrote to Telford and Wrekin Council leader Shaun Davies to explain his decision. Mr Davies welcomed the news saying: “I have time and time again been asking the Secretary of State to intervene and he has now only agreed to do so after being forced to by our submission of the referral request. This decision makes it clear that we have made a strong and robust case, because the request could have been rejected at this stage. This is merely the first step in what I fully expect to be a drawn-out process but we must make sure that it does not lead to the Health Secretary just kicking the Future Fit can further down the road. It avoids him making any decision until after May’s elections.”
Wrekin MP Mark Pritchard said the announcement was “an important and positive step forwards in getting the flawed Future Fit reconfiguration reviewed by the IRP”.
Telford MP Lucy Allan said: “The Secretary of State has been listening to my concerns and those of residents. I am delighted that our efforts in Parliament have paid off as the Health Secretary acted as soon as he had the legal documentation from the council following Shrewsbury and Telford Hospital NHS Trust’s announcement in January.
Earlier this month the Health Secretary visited Telford’s Princess Royal Hospital where he was urged by local MPs to review the decision.
The full text of the letter from the Health Secretary to the Leader of Telford and Wrekin Council is shown below.
Dear Councillor Davies,
Referral to the Secretary of State under Regulation 23(9) of the Local Authority (Public Health, Health and Wellbeing Boards and Health Scrutiny) Regulations 2013 of changes to healthcare services in Telford and the Wrekin through the ‘Future Fit’ programme.
Thank you for your letter of 20 March 2019 referring to me the above proposals resulting from the ‘Future Fit’ programme and resulting decisions made by the Joint Committee of the Telford and Wrekin and Shropshire Council Clinical Commissioning Groups.
I am today writing to the Independent Reconfiguration Panel (IRP) asking them to undertake an initial assessment of this case.
Should the IRP advise me that a full review is necessary, you will have the chance to present your case to them in full. Your letter of 20 March 2019 has been passed to the IRP.
I have asked the Panel to report to me no later than the end of May. I have asked them to let me and copy recipients of my letter to them know if it becomes apparent that this deadline is not achievable, and, in such a case, what a more realistic timetable would be.
I am copying this letter to Lord Ribeiro, Chair of the IRP.”