A message from David Evans, Senior Responsible Officer, NHS Future Fit:
People will have woken up this morning to see headlines telling them that A&E is to close at Telford and a new Emergency Department will be built at Shrewsbury.
The most important thing to say is that No Final Decision Has Been Made. I cannot give this enough emphasis.
I would like to quickly remind everyone about what we are trying to achieve with the NHS Future Fit programme. We are trying to find a solution to the challenges of Accident & Emergency and Critical Care provision in the region. The vast majority of health professionals working in Shropshire and Telford & Wrekin agree this is needed. That solution would involve:
- A brand new Emergency Centre at either Royal Shrewsbury Hospital or Princess Royal in Telford
- The majority of planned care would be on the other site. This would be for planned (non-emergency) operations and other planned procedures
- Two new Urgent Care Centres – one at RSH and one at PRH where most of the patients who are currently seen in A&E would continue to be able to be treated where they are now
- Outpatients and Diagnostics at both PRH and RSH
What gave rise to the headlines you have seen about is something called the Non-Financial Appraisal. This was an important meeting that took place on Friday.
It involved a panel consisting of all the partner organisations involved in NHS Future Fit – all NHS organisations including Shrewsbury & Telford Hospital NHS Trust, other providers, ambulance services, local government, patient representatives and others from across Shropshire, Telford & Wrekin and Mid Wales. 50 people in total.
It essentially weighed up the advantages and disadvantages for having the Emergency Centre at each site, without taking money into account. The main criteria they looked at were:
- Access – how easy each option is to reach for patients
- Deliverability of the option
- Quality of Care
- Attracting and retaining the right staff
However the Non-Financial Appraisal is just one of the pieces of work which will eventually lead to a preferred option.
There is also the Financial Appraisal. This will consider the money aspects of what is involved with delivering changes at each site and it will look at value for money and affordability of each option.
The NHS Future Fit Board will then have to make a recommendation (based on the Financial and Non-Financial Appraisals) on a preferred option to the area’s two clinical commissioning bodies – Shropshire and Telford & Wrekin CCGs.
But even these bodies will not make a final decision at this point – there will still be many more steps to take.
This includes a Public Consultation that will last at least 12 weeks. It is expected to start in December, and I say “at least” 12 weeks because we will take into account the holiday period.
Even then there will be no final decision. To begin with the results of the public consultation will need to be analysed thoroughly. But there will also need to be scrutiny of our plans – both from a clinical and financial point-of-view - from various bodies at a national and regional level.
There is a huge amount of work to undertake over the coming months. Nothing is certain yet.
Anyone can take a look at a short animation that explains the NHS Future Fit “case for change”. It has been viewed close to 10,000 times already and can be seen at: www.nhsfuturefit.org
People can also get involved by going to: www.nhsfuturefit.org/get-involved
And once again, no final decision has been made.
This piece was written for the Shropshire Star and has been printed today – Tuesday September 27