The recent unannounced inspection by the Care Quality Commission (CQC) into Shrewsbury and Telford Hospital Trust (SaTH) raised some concerns in the Emergency Department. I spoke directly to the Chief Executive of SaTH, and subsequently to the CQC which is working with the Trust to resolve any urgent issues.
It is important to ensure the A&E department at Telford remains safe, given the current pressures on clinical staff. There is a risk of night time closure to new admissionsa, which could mean diverting patients at night out of county, if Royal Shrewsbury is full.
This is the frustrating reality of the current acute configuration and clinical staffing in A&E, which Future Fit in part aims to address. Indeed it is already starting to turn staffing around, with new consultants hired and nurses being trained.
But they are not yet on wards, so I have requested a meeting with new Secretary of State for Health & Social Care, Matt Hancock MP, to ask if the NHS could help provide clinicians for a period, pending arrival of the additional doctors and nurses who have been appointed but not yet arrived.
In other health news, Shropdoc have announced changes to their service provision, which means GP cover for the Bridgnorth area will be provided from Telford, and for the Ludlow area from Shrewsbury through the night. I am seeking reassurance this will work.
Earlier this week, the Future Fit consultation closed after some months seeking public comment on the plans. This included public feedback sessions in towns across South Shropshire where NHS staff explained the different options.
The current pressures show how important it is for the NHS in Shropshire to progress with these plans. Some campaigners seem to decry any change in the health service, as seen from those who refer to injection of over £300m into the NHS in Shropshire as “cuts”.
But this is our best chance to put right historic and current problems in our local healthcare system, following plans proposed by clinicians not politicians. With support from all of those who provide healthcare in Shropshire and interested patient groups, this model of care using modern technologies which are just around the corner, can bring joined up care closer to the patient across our communities.
Without taking a positive step towards 21st century healthcare, the well-known problems will persist and ultimately hardworking staff in our local NHS will be placed under ever-increasing pressure.