Privatisation begins of A&E at Royal Shrewsbury Hospital
A key council committee was dramatically divided today (14th July) in a vote on approving a major change to A&E services at the Royal Shropshire Hospital.
Shropshire CCG – the body that runs NHS services – has decided to close the Monkmoor Walk-In Centre in Shrewsbury, used by 34,000 people a year. The private company running the Walk-In Centre, Malling Health, will be given a contract extension – but will run a sharply different service instead: an Urgent Care Centre to be based alongside the A&E Department at the Royal Shrewsbury Hospital. The decision on the Urgent Care Centre pre-empts the work of the Future Fit NHS reorganisation plans, which have not yet been consulted on.
The Council’s Health and Adult Social Care Scrutiny Committee split by 5 votes to 4 on supporting the plans. An alternative motion to defer for more information and consultation was lost by 4 votes to 5. A central concern for the councillors who voted against the plans was the lack of consultation.
Extraordinarily, it seems that the plans had not even been discussed or approved by the CCG’s Board, at its meeting last week (9th July). Consultation with users of the Walk-In Centre began only at the end of June, although they are set to lose a valued and well-used service. Every other potential user of the A&E Department at the Royal Shrewsbury Hospital now faces a restructured service, with urgent care to be offered by a private company – and there has been no consultation with the wider public at all.
Even the councillors who voted to support the plans did so with the proviso that something is done about parking at the Royal Shrewsbury Hospital. They raised strong concerns around access to the proposed Urgent Care Centre, as parking at the current Walk-In Centre is free, and parking at the hospital is both expensive and regularly unavailable.
Gill George, speaking for Shropshire Defend Our NHS campaign, said, “This is really worrying. We’ve got local NHS bosses doing whatever they want, and taking short cuts to do it. All the evidence is that the public opposes privatisation of our NHS. Privatisation of services at the Royal Shrewsbury Hospital is a major step, and it’s shocking that they’re not bothering even to tell us, never mind consult”.
Joyce Brand, Secretary of the campaign, added, “This is quite frightening. We believe there’s a very strong risk of the A&E at the Royal Shrewsbury being closed down. We’ll be left with an Urgent Care Centre in its place, run by a private company that’s there to make a profit out of people who are sick or injured. We have to ask if the promised Future Fit consultation is a sham, as they’re already implementing parts of the Future Fit plan”.
The CCG is expected to take a final decision at its Board meeting on 10th September. The Shropshire Defend Our NHS campaign will be contacting the CCG with our concerns.
Issued: 14th July 2014
The Press Release was quoted in this Shropshire Star article.