On Tuesday night NHS commissioning groups of Shropshire and Telford made an historic decision to proceed with the major improvement to both Royal Shrewsbury Hospital and Princess Royal Hospital in Telford. This will allow the allocation £312m of NHS capital expenditure to progress, which will be the largest public sector investment in health in Shropshire ever undertaken.
The decision to focus acute care on RSH, with planned care at PRH, has not been taken lightly, and is based on the overwhelming advice of clinicians across the county.
For those of us who have been involved in the process, the journey has been a long one, and at times felt like it was moving frustratingly slowly. But it was right to take time to ensure the Future Fit programme will deliver for patients and clinicians working in the NHS. The public consultation took in the views of the public, patient groups and those working in the NHS across the county, to ensure that all possible arrangements had been considered.
But now, decision made, we should delay no longer. We must deliver the benefits Future Fit has to offer. The very fact that Shropshire had achieved such a significant capital allocation last year has given confidence to clinicians to come to the county. For example since the capital announcement in 2018, 24 new consultants have agreed to join the Trust - double the normal annual recruitment of this senior level of clinicians.
So we are already seeing the positive impact of this progress. But at a meeting last week with 5 of the NHS Chief Executives serving Shropshire and Telford with Shropshire MPs, we were told in clear terms that further delay to the project would risk these clinicians moving elsewhere, thereby reducing the sustainability of healthcare in the county for the future.
I am delighted that the Future Fit process has arrived at this important decision point. I will continue to do what I can to support the NHS in Shropshire to get these facilities in place, to future-proof 21st century healthcare outcomes for patients across Shropshire and the wider region.