A meeting dominated by the A&E closure decision
When the SaTH Board met on Thursday 25th October, they were joined by around 40 campaigners, strongly opposed to the overnight closure of the A&E at Princess Royal Hospital.
The SaTH pretence on Thursday was that no decision had been taken on overnight A&E closure. Really? One brief exchange gave the game away:
One Board member said, “What happens when it closes?”.
“IF“, barked the Chair.
“Yes, what happens IF it closes”, said the Board member.
Despite the games playing, the Board was on the back foot for much of the meeting. Sharp challenges from campaigners forced them to tear up the planned agenda. The Chair started off by announcing that public questions on A&E closure would be taken at the end of the meeting – many hours away. There were shouts of “shameful”, and he was told he was treating the public with contempt.
He eventually backed down. The meeting was dominated by a public session on A&E closure that ran for about an hour. And these were not deferential ‘public questions’. These were sharp, well-informed – and angry – challenges to plans that put lives at risk.
Again and again, Board members looked anxious. They simply had no convincing answers. Yes, they still intend to push this massive attack through. But they were on the defensive, again and again and again.
Destroying the A&E costs how much?
Just over £5 million according to hospital trust SaTH. That’s £3.4 million in lost ‘business’, as local patients get packed off to out-of-county hospitals. And another £1.7 million for the extra ambulances to take them there, according to Shropshire CCG last week. That’s OUR money, by the way.
This is absurd. SaTH needs only five middle-grade doctors to keep BOTH A&Es open overnight. If they’ve really got £5 million to throw around, how about spending it on getting those staff in place instead of overnight closure of the A&E at Princess Royal?
The reality of course is that SaTH wants to run down the A&E. It’s the first step in implementing Future Fit, with its massive cuts and closures – and we can expect this to be followed quickly by further service changes at both hospitals. For SaTH’s senior management team, it’s about ‘investing’ £5 million to balance the books more easily over the next few years. The current decision on part-closure of Princess Royal’s A&E was taken by SaTH in July, disclosed to the BBC by a SaTH Consultant, and confirmed by another SaTH doctor. SaTH didn’t come clean, because if they had, people might have concluded that the Future Fit consultation was a con trick. Continue reading
This letter was handed to Matt Hancock, the current Secretary of State for Health at the Conservative Party Conference in Birmingham by a number of supporters of Shropshire, Telford & Wrekin Defend Our NHS. It contains specific proposals that would ensure there was no need to close either A&E.
2nd October 2018
Matt Hancock MP
Secretary of State for Health
Dear Mr Hancock
As residents of Shropshire, Telford and Wrekin, we are asking for your help.
You will know about the massive crisis in our local hospital trust, ‘SaTH’. The trust runs two A&Es and hospitals, at Shrewsbury and Telford. You are of course aware of the independent review of avoidable deaths and occurrences of harm in maternity. Our experience is that there is a continuing culture of denial at Board level. How is it possible to learn from mistakes if they are not acknowledged in the first place?
We assume, too, that you will know of the CQC inspection that has just finished. The leaked CQC letter has been widely reported, and it identified serious risks to patient safety. It cannot be acceptable ever in the NHS for a diabetic patient to be left without food or fluid for 15 hours, for a high dependency area to be left completely unstaffed for 15 minutes, or for a patient with signs of deteriorating sepsis to be left on a trolley in the corridor without adequate care. There is a desperate shortage of staff and beds at both hospitals, and current reconfiguration plans will make this much worse.