Author Archives: TrotterLudlow

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


Demonstrate for Two A&Es


Decision Time – Time to Fight for BOTH A&Es

After endless delays, it looks like a decision has been taken. It’s a decision that is part and parcel of a wider process of cuts and closures in local NHS services – and if you want to make your voice heard, skip to the end of this post for two important meetings.

Telford and Wrekin
Health bosses intend to close the A&E at Telford’s Princess Royal Hospital, downgrade the hospital, and move the Women’s and Children’s Centre from the Princess Royal Hospital to the Royal Shrewsbury Hospital. The Women’s and Children’s Centre was opened almost exactly two years ago, at a cost of £28 million. This is the decision taken at last Friday’s ‘non-financial appraisal’ meeting. This option was promoted vigorously by representatives of SaTH, the hospital trust. We have been told it is a virtual certainty that this will be endorsed by a financial appraisal panel, and rubber-stamped by a Future Fit Programme Board in early October.
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Devastating Cuts: Letters

Following the Shropshire CCG’s announcement that they are planning devastating cuts to community and mental health services, Shropshire, Telford & Wrekin Defend Our NHS has written to both the County’s MPs and the Chair of Shropshire’s Health Scrutiny Committee to call for action to prevent them. The letters are below (or click on the links above). Continue reading

Shropshire’s NHS: Heading for Devastating Cuts

On Wednesday 10th August, the Governing Board of Shropshire Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG) took some shocking decisions. They nodded through NHS cuts that will harm frail elderly people, people with mental health problems, people with profound disabilities, and children with cerebral palsy. They didn’t say ‘cuts’, of course. They’re just ‘realising the potential for disinvestment’.

The planned cuts for this year include axing a voluntary worker who worked on integrating services from health, social care and the voluntary sector; closing a crisis house in Ludlow for people with mental health problems; withdrawing funding from the handful of children with cerebral palsy who have intensive therapy at the Movement Centre in Oswestry (a recognised centre of excellence); closing Enable, a high quality specialist service helping people with mental health problems remain in employment; closing beds in a Much Wenlock care home that have been used to avoid hospital admissions; ending a service that provides proactive care to frail elderly people in care homes who are most at risk of hospital admission; ending a lifestyle physiotherapy service that has run for 8 years, is cost effective and well-used; stopping a Home from Hospital service that provides very practical help and personal care for patients following hospital discharge or requiring support to avoid hospital admission; ending a Moving and Handling service that provides support to the carers of older people with dementia or mobility problems; probably ending most pain management services in Shropshire and hoping that GPs will absorb the work; and ending a specialist service at Oak House that provides health assessment and intervention for adults who have profound intellectual and physical disabilities and sensory impairments.

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Letter to CCG Board Members

Letter sent today to CCG Board Members in advance of their meeting tomorrow, Wednesday, August 10 at 11:00 in Shirehall, Shrewsbury

Dear Governing Body Member

Apologies for an unsolicited email. I am contacting GP members of the Governing Body, and members with a responsibility for public engagement (including David Evans as Accountable Officer). I am also copying in Jane Randall-Smith from Healthwatch, and local MP Philip Dunne who now has Ministerial responsibility for NHS finance. I will also be forwarding this email to Gerald Dakin, Chair of the Health and Adult Social Care Scrutiny Committee, with some additional comments on the possible impact of these cuts on Shropshire Council.

I am concerned about the implications of agenda item 8.4 on CCG decommissioning and disinvestment plans. The impact of these cuts on some very vulnerable people will obviously be detrimental to them, as I’m sure you are aware. The patients most affected are people with mental health problems, frail elderly people, and people with complex disabilities (adults and children).

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Shropshire’s NHS Cuts to Hit Vulnerable People Hardest

Last month, the Governing Body of Shropshire Clinical Commissioning Group agreed, ‘We should consider some areas we have previously viewed as “unpalatable” if we are to deal effectively with our financial problems’[i].

The realities of this are now becoming clear. On Wednesday 10th August, Governing Body members will be asked to agree cuts proposals that will harm the most vulnerable people in our society.

The cuts[ii] include withdrawal of funding for children with cerebral palsy to attend the Movement Centre, a centre of excellence based at Oswestry’s Robert Jones and Agnes Hunt Hospital. A ‘Home from Hospital’ service, offering practical support to frail elderly people following hospital discharge, is to end. The ‘CHAS’ scheme, offering pro-active case management and care to the frail care home residents most at risk of hospital admission, is to end. Funding will be withdrawn from Oak House, an establishment offering health assessment and intervention to people with profound and multiple disabilities and sensory impairments. People with mental health problems will be particularly hard-hit, with the closure of Enable, a best practice employment support scheme to help them into work. Ludlow’s Path House, a crisis centre for people with mental health problems, will close. Counselling based in GP surgeries is to end. A national target for the NHS is to value mental health equally with physical health – but it is hard to see how these cuts are consistent with that principle.

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A step closer to the destruction of our A&E

Shropshire moved a big step closer to A&E closure today. Disgracefully, health bosses in Shropshire CCG signed off a document called the ‘Sustainable Services Strategic Outline Case’ – the blueprint for A&E closure.

There were two sides to the meeting.

One side was magnificent. There were around 100 members of the public, packed into a room that wasn’t big enough, sitting on tables and standing at the back when the chairs ran out. We turned out today – despite the short notice – because we care about the future of our NHS. As defenders of the NHS, we spoke passionately about why we need to keep both our A&Es and both our hospitals. A former A&E nurse talked about the need for the hospital trust to value its staff instead of driving them out. A parish councillor from Clunton described the escalating problems in primary care and community care. A Clun resident described the patient safety disaster at the North Middlesex Hospital in London, where a plan that is virtually identical to Future Fit has resulted in chaos. A speaker from Oswestry asked them to admit Future Fit was nothing more than a cost cutting measure.

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On 10th May, the Board of Shropshire CCG – the top health bosses in Shropshire – voted to reject Future Fit in its current form.

Their decision has effectively been ignored, with the CCG Accountable Officer David Evans and CCG Chair Julian Povey lobbying hard to push through a crucial document rejected by their Board – a ‘Strategic Outline Case’ that takes us a decisive step closer to A&E closure.

The next attempt to force the plans through will be on:

Wednesday 29th June, at 11.00 am; Shrewsbury/Oswestry Rooms, Shropshire Council, The Shirehall, Abbey Foregate, Shrewsbury, Shropshire, SY2 6ND

They have called this meeting at short notice, and they have called it during the day. It is clear that the intention is to make it as difficult as possible for the public to attend. There’s no question that a large turnout from members of the public was really powerful on 10th May, and influenced the outcome.

If you can possibly attend the meeting on Wednesday, please come along.

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