Health Services in Mid Wales

Following many years of consultation, plans have been given the go ahead (29th January 2019) to transform hospital services for the half a million residents of Mid Wales, Shropshire, and Telford.
I’m pleased to report that a new Emergency Care Centre will be built in Shrewsbury. This is welcome news for the people of Mid Wales.
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 long-awaited 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.
At a public meeting (29th January), the Joint Committee of Shropshire and Telford & Wrekin Clinical Commissioning Groups (CCGs) considered the Decision Making Business Case which brought together all of the work which has been carried out by the "Future Fit" programme over the last six years.
The Shropshire and Telford & Wrekin CCGs had consulted the public on two options which were designed to improve the hospital services provided at both the Royal Shrewsbury Hospital and Princess Royal Hospital in Telford to meet the needs of communities across the areas which they serve.
NHS "Future Fit" asked the public whether they preferred for the Royal Shrewsbury to become an Emergency Care site and the Princess Royal Hospital a planned care site (the CCGs' preferred option) or vice-versa.
I believe this landmark decision is a very welcome result for Mid Wales, and will result in better care for patients, and the £312 million on offer from the UK Government will now be secured to develop the much needed reform of health services, and build a new state of the art Emergency Care Centre in Shrewsbury.
You will be aware from my previous updates that I encouraged the people of Mid Wales to engage in the public consultation and the response rate from Powys was very high.
I would also like to thank the many people who completed my own survey in relation to this consultation. I received over 600 responses from residents in Montgomeryshire. The overwhelming conclusion was that 95% of respondents preferred an emergency care centre at the Royal Shrewsbury Hospital rather than the Princess Royal in Telford but there were also concerns that under both options, the proposed model of care would result in residents having to travel further for some of their care.

The news is 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 will be provided at the Royal Shrewsbury Hospital:

  • 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 does 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, and now that we have this decision, 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 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).
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.
Kind regards
Russell George
Assembly Member for Montgomeryshire