Health & Social Care Facility for North Powys
News that the preferred site for a new health and social care facility for North Powys will be in the centre of Newtown is welcome but the proposals need to demonstrate that the new facility will also help to strengthen health facilities in other towns in North Powys.
Powys Teaching Health Board has also confirmed that an additional £2.5 million of Welsh Government funding has been obtained to develop plans for a multi-agency well-being campus, including a Rural Regional Centre, which could be co-located next to new school facilities as well as a Community Wellbeing Hub. This could be part of a network of other Community Wellbeing Hubs across North Powys.
The North Powys Wellbeing Programme aims to focus on wellbeing; promote early help and support by being able to provide technology that helps you live at home; tackle the biggest causes of ill health and poor wellbeing; and ensure joined up care involving neighbourhood teams and communities working together so that you have a more seamless service when you need it.
I believe that a town centre location is the correct place to help further regenerate the town centre, but the proposals also need to demonstrate that the new facility will help to strengthen health facilities in other towns in North Powys.
This is a very exciting development for Montgomeryshire, and I’m keen that plans are developed for other towns so we can understand how the new facility can support wider needs.
This is such welcome development which should see a range of benefits for people of all ages by joining up the provision of local public services. Further capital funding will have to come forward if the project and new facility is to become a reality and I shall continue to lobby the Welsh Government in this regard.
This innovative way of delivering health and social care in close proximity to educational facilities is a positive step forward for North Powys which will make it easier for families to access essential services locally rather than have to travel some distance from North Powys to access support, health checks and appointments.
I think it is important that plans for the new school next to the health facility are developed at the same time as we need to ensure that the new school build has sufficient space, and I’m keen that the local authority and the health board provide details on the potential build of both the new school and the health care facility as soon as possible.
In the meantime, and while we await this new facility, I will continue to lobby for improvements to support existing health services in our area.
Emergency Care Centre in Shrewsbury
Following many years of consultation, plans were given the go ahead earlier this year (29th January 2019) to transform hospital services for the half a million residents of Mid Wales, Shropshire, and Telford. However, Telford Council has challenged the decision-making process and recommendations. It has formally referred the matter to the UK Government's Health Secretary who has asked an independent panel to look into the matter further before making a decision.
Under the initial plans, the Royal Shrewsbury Hospital will become a new Emergency Care centre and The Princess Royal Hospital in Telford will become a Planned Care centre, with a 24-hour Urgent Care centre at both hospitals.
I welcome this initial decision which comes after many years of deliberation by a programme board called “Future Fit”. The Board, considered the outcome and feedback from a public consultation, impact assessments on the different options and the findings of an independent review.
This would be positive for us in Mid Wales, as not only will we see life-saving emergency healthcare located in Shrewsbury, with the large investment that comes with it, we will also see the return of the women and children’s consultant-led inpatient service return to Shrewsbury.
The following services would be provided at the Royal Shrewsbury Hospital if plans are approved:
- 24-hour Emergency Department
- Critical Care Unit
- Ambulatory Emergency Care Unit
- Emergency surgery and medicine
- Complex planned surgery
- Women and children’s consultant-led inpatient services
The following services will be provided at the Princess Royal Hospital in Telford:
- Planned inpatient surgery
- Day case surgery
- Breast inpatient services
- Medical wards
I think it’s also important to point out that both hospitals will continue to provide adult and children’s outpatients services and diagnostic tests as well as a 24-hour Urgent Care Centre, Day Case Renal Unit and Midwife-led unit.
However, the change would mean that some planned and elective healthcare will be delivered in Telford, so during this process, I also expressed the view in my own consultation response that, alongside the proposed reconfiguration of services in Shropshire, it is essential that some planned care is delivered locally in our local community hospitals in Llanidloes, Newtown, Welshpool and Machynlleth, to prevent the need to travel out of county to see a consultant. I will be keen to understand how the Shrewsbury and Telford Hospital NHS Trust will work in partnership with Powys Teaching Health Board to achieve this going forward.
I firmly believe that NHS services should be delivered as close as possible to home and I have previously called on the Welsh Government to allocate additional funding to Powys Teaching Health Board for minor injury units and develop a Community Hospital Development Fund to encourage the innovative use of community hospitals across rural Wales. I will also be looking for the Welsh Government to revisit this suggestion following the changes to healthcare across the border in Shropshire. My view is that patients should not travel significant distances for some planned care procedures when this type of elective healthcare can be delivered locally, making community hospitals more sustainable and to ensure that any additional economic, social and psychological burden of travelling further to access planned care or visiting friends and family is alleviated.
This decision is a milestone which marks the point where the Shrewsbury & Telford Hospitals Trust has begun to confront its challenges and makes the necessary reforms which will allow it to attract top class consultants and clinicians. I am hugely encouraged by the initial decision, which I hope will allow building works to commence on the Shrewsbury site for a new Emergency Centre by the end of next year (2020) if the original decision is upheld.
Finally, I would like to pay tribute to the way in which clinicians continue to get on with the job and strive for the highest possible standards of healthcare in spite of the challenges which the Trust has faced in recent times. I know that this dedication and commitment to patients will continue.