We discovered a week ago that SaTH, the organisation running the Royal Shrewsbury and Princess Royal Hospitals, had firm plans to close one of the A&Es soon. We’d suspected this for a while. One of the SaTH Directors saying they could close an A&E ‘within weeks or months’ was a bit of a give-away!
At the weekend, though, we found out just how immediate the threat was. We were approached by someone who has to remain anonymous, but who had very good information on what was happening in the hospitals. This person told us that a decision had been taken to close one of the A&Es as part of ‘winter pressures planning’. It seems completely perverse to close an A&E department at the start of the winter, and this ‘quick and dirty’ approach would have caused absolute chaos for patients seeking emergency care – but it really does seem certain that this is what hospital bosses had decided to do. A disgraceful, disgraceful decision.
Whatever we call it, Future Fit is a project in chaos – but health bosses STILL plan to close an A&E
It’s been clear for many, many months that the Future Fit NHS project has been failing. All the good ideas of care closer to home, joined up care, proactive management of long term conditions and so on have long since disappeared. Investment into community services is intended to be negligible. Community hospitals are being run down. Rural Urgent Care Centres have been kicked into touch. Most recently, the two very senior NHS bosses who are the architects of Future Fit have suddenly disappeared from their jobs. It’s become crystal clear that Future Fit is about two things: closing an A&E and closing a hospital, to save money, and with no regard at all for the needs of our area.
On October 1 local NHS leaders were due to take a decision on which A&E and hospital they were going to close down – the Royal Shrewsbury or Telford’s Princess Royal. Their decision was… no decision! After two years of work and endless glossy events trying to convince the public that closing an A&E is a good idea, they have achieved – precisely nothing. Their only conclusion is that they don’t know what to do. Even the timetable for implementation is in chaos, with public consultation delayed from early December this year to the summer or autumn of 2016. What a disgraceful waste of public money – and what an insult to the members of the public and the overworked NHS staff who have sat through the time-wasting meetings and engagement events.