Monthly Archives: October 2016

Is Ludlow’s Midwife Led Unit being closed permanently?

Letter to Simon Wright, Chief Executive, Shrewsbury & Telford Hospital NHS Trust from Gill George, Chair of the Campaign:

Dear Simon

I note the closure of maternity services at Ludlow Hospital on Friday 14th October, with no notice and no public consultation.

In the news release from SaTH, you describe the closure as ‘temporary’, and comment:

“The decision to temporarily suspend services is not one we have taken lightly, but one we felt to be necessary and in the best interest of mums, babies and staff.

“I have requested a number of reports, including a structural survey, to be conducted into the condition of the building. No further decisions about when services will resume will be made until the findings of those reports are returned and evaluated.

“SaTH is looking to find an alternative area locally to house our antenatal services.”

The closure of the Shrewsbury Midwife Led Unit evidently is temporary, as SaTH states that maintenance work will take two weeks.

The fear, of course, is that the Ludlow closure will be one of those ‘temporary’ events that becomes permanent. It can come as no surprise at all to SaTH that the maternity block at Ludlow Hospital is old and in a poor state of repair. It is common knowledge in Ludlow; the Community Trust has been well aware of this over some years; and the CQC’s 2015 report on Ludlow Hospital maternity services highlighted that the unit was in an old building which required some renovation.

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Is the Lingen Davies Cancer Centre at risk?

Mr Mark Cheetham, a surgeon at the hospitals, has publicly accused Shropshire, Telford and Wrekin Defend Our NHS of ‘scaremongering’ when we said cancer care could be lost from the Royal Shrewsbury Hospital. It’s an outrageous accusation, and one we absolutely reject. We do not ‘scaremonger’. We quoted current material published by the Future Fit Programme and by the hospital trust itself. The most recent publicly available material from local NHS leaders shows a very clear risk to the future provision of cancer care at the Royal Shrewsbury. It cannot be interpreted any other way.

There is a Future Fit video available here. The relevant section is from around 1:55. This states explicitly that cancer care will be provided from the Planned Care Centre, not the Emergency Centre – and an outline decision was taken on 23rd September that the Planned Care Centre will be Telford. The video is being extensively promoted by the Future Fit Comms team, with no suggestion that it may be wrong.

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Will an A&E close this winter?

Our two A&Es aren’t coping. At both hospitals – the Princess Royal and the Royal Shrewsbury – it is becoming routine for ambulances to be stacked up outside because there is no capacity in A&E; for patients to wait hours for treatment; and then for patients to be left on trolleys for many more hours because there are no hospital beds available. Last weekend, both hospitals failed to cope – and we heard some appalling accounts of what this meant for frail elderly people. This is not the fault of hospital staff. This is about a system that is under-funded and does not have the capacity to cope.

Astonishingly, the hospital trust is floating the idea of CLOSING one of the A&Es almost immediately. Just think that through. We have two A&Es that aren’t coping. Hospital bosses are considering closing one of them down, at the start of the winter, and at a time when they are already saying they don’t have enough money to pay for the number of sick patients they are expecting to have to treat. If they do something as stupid as this, it guarantees chaos in our hospitals this winter – and it comes close to guaranteeing unnecessary patient deaths.

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Two Dates for Your Diary

In the last few months, the Campaign has produced 13,000 leaflets, 1000 badges, 1000 window stickers, and assorted petitions, posters and printed reports. All of this costs money. An easy way of supporting our fundraising efforts is to pop along to one of the two events taking place this weekend:

Saturday 22nd October, 8pm – the Shrewsbury Ceilidh! This is at Unison Club, Shirehall, Abbey Foregate, Shrewsbury (a joint event for Shropshire, Telford and Wrekin Defend Our NHS and Shropshire People’s Assembly). Come along for live bands, dancing, and a good time! Tickets on the door at £7, or in advance from Pengwern books, Fish Street, Shrewsbury.

Sunday 23rd October, 7.30 pm – Ludlow Choral Concert. A medley of local choirs including Bella Acapella, Ludlow Larks, and St Laurence’s Church Choir. This not to be missed event is at Ludlow Brewery, Station Drive, Ludlow. Tickets on the door at £10.

Zombie Future Fit: The cuts plan that just won’t die

It’s been an interesting kind of a day.

This afternoon, a body called the Future Fit Programme Board was due to take a decision on where it would site a single A&E to cover our population of over 600,000 people, living across more than 2000 square miles. The expectation was that they would endorse the ‘non-financial appraisal panel’ decision of 10 days ago.

Last week’s decision was to close the A&E and the Women and Children’s Centre at Telford’s Princess Royal Hospital – an outcome that would have placed lives at risk. It was a lose-lose situation, with absolutely no victories for Shrewsbury or for Shropshire either. Shrewsbury’s Lingen Davies Cancer Centre was set to be closed down, with Shropshire people facing lengthy journeys for radiotherapy or chemotherapy. All planned surgery was to be taken away from Shrewsbury and moved to Telford. We also know that last week’s decision was for an A&E that was far too small, for an 11% cut in the number of hospital beds, and a 10% cut in spending on hospital staff. These were cuts that would have killed people – and this was the cuts package that everyone thought would be rubberstamped today.

This morning, a rumour emerged that Future Fit was in deep crisis. Informal reports from the Clinical Commissioning Group were that Future Fit would be put on hold until 2018/19, and the hospital trust (SaTH) would get on and take its own operational plans on what to do with the hospitals. At 4pm this afternoon, the story changed again. Future Fit survives, for now. It is now supposedly on hold for a month, in response to a threatened judicial review from Telford and Wrekin Council.

It’s an extraordinary state of affairs. This is a project that’s limped along for close to 3 years, and that was almost cancelled a year ago when NHS England declared that every single option was unaffordable! Every promise made by health bosses has been broken: no new investment, no care closer to home, no rural urgent care centres. Future Fit is a cuts project, it’s way past its sell-by date, and it’s time that health bosses called a halt to the whole charade. And how many £ millions have they wasted trying to con us into believing that this cuts project is about better patient care? They owe us an apology.

Future Fit may collapse. The timetable is very tight, and a month’s delay could finish it off. If it does fall apart, it’s a victory for campaigners. We’ve worked hard to expose just how shoddy the Future Fit plans are, and we’d be pleased to see the back of it. Unfortunately it would be a largely symbolic victory. Future Fit is now part of a wider cuts package called the ‘Sustainability and Transformation Plan’. This will cut almost £150 million every single year from the local health budget, and will replace a lot of hospital care with ‘DIY’ self-care and community resilience approaches instead. These vicious cuts are still set to be implemented.

There’s an immediate threat as well. The hospital trust is in financial chaos, and now says it doesn’t have the money to deal with ‘winter pressures’ – to treat extra winter patients at both the Princess Royal and the Royal Shrewsbury in the coming months. There has to be a fear that they will just drive through the cuts they want, claiming that this is about patient safety in an attempt to avoid public consultation altogether.

From the Defend Our NHS campaign, the message is a clear and simple one – whether Future Fit staggers on or not. We have two A&Es because we need them. We have two District General Hospitals because we need them. We have an NHS because caring for sick and vulnerable people is the hallmark of a decent society. These are the reasons we’ll continue to fight against NHS cuts and closures, and why we’ll defend healthcare for people across Shropshire, Telford and Wrekin, and Powys.

Today’s press release:  future-fit-dead-in-the-water.

Today’s demonstration in Wellington