Category Archives: Uncategorized

Open Letter to Shropshire, Telford & Powys MPs: Halt Future Fit

IRPThe following letter has been sent to all our local MPs. We are calling on them to ask the Secretary of State to halt Future Fit. He can do that under the 2012 Health & Social Care Act because the decision has been referred to him by Telford & Wrekin Council. The Secretary of State has asked his Independent Reconfiguration Panel [IRP] to make recommendations, but the final decision is his. We made our own 124-page submission to the IRP which was accepted to be included in the Panel’s deliberations. You can download it from here.

On the 18th February, Telford and Wrekin Councillors voted unanimously to refer the decision on Future Fit to Matt Hancock, Secretary of State for Health and Social Care. That referral is now with the Independent Reconfiguration Panel.

The reality is that Future Fit will lead to worse healthcare not just for the people of Telford and Wrekin, but for Shropshire and Powys people too. It is also clear that Future Fit cannot solve the financial crisis in our local NHS, but will exacerbate it.

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A hammer blow to Future Fit?

Behind the brave talk from health bosses, the Future Fit cuts and closure plans are in desperate trouble.

Tonight, Telford and Wrekin Councillors voted unanimously to refer the Future Fit decision to the Secretary of State for Health.

This, set alongside a continued public campaign against Future Fit, creates a very real prospect the defeat of these disgraceful plans.

Councillor Andy Burford, Chair of the Health Overview and Scrutiny Committee and Joint Chair of the Joint HOSC with Shropshire Council, introduced the motion for referral. It was a calm, measured and well-informed speech – impressive in its careful demolition of the case for Future Fit.

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Letter to Telford & Wrekin Councillors

On Monday, February 18, Telford and Wrekin Council will be holding an Extraordinary Meeting to discuss referring the decision to proceed with Future Fit to the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care. This is a procedure laid down in the Health and Social Care Act of 2012 when a local authority believes that a decision by the health bosses is not in the best interests of local people. It will halt progress on Future Fit until the Secretary of State has ruled on the proposals and may result in the health bosses being told to look again.

In advance of the Meeting, Shropshire, Telford and Wrekin Defend Our NHS has written to each individual Councillor to urge them to support the referral, but to do so on the basis that we need both our A&Es. The letter is below.

Dear Councillor

We are writing to you in advance of the Extraordinary Council Meeting on Monday 18th February.

Firstly, and most importantly, we share your strong concerns over the outcome of the CCG Joint Committee meeting of 29th January. The meeting itself was in many respects shoddy, as was the consultation that preceded it. The decision will leave us with a hospital that is too small to meet demand, and with increased journeys to care that will cost lives. There is no question that the outcome is detrimental to healthcare for Telford and Wrekin people (as it is for Shropshire and Powys people). Continue reading

SaTH Board on the defensive

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.

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Saving Our A&Es

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

Letter to Matt Hancock, Secretary of State for Health

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.

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SaTH: Not Fit for Purpose

That’s the only possible view of the leadership of Shrewsbury and Telford Hospitals Trust following the farce of a Board meeting yesterday.

In the midst of overwhelming crisis, the Board had a brilliant plan: ‘Let’s ignore it’. The periodic injections of reality came from the many members of the public present, and from the one honourable Non-Executive Director who did a decent and principled job of challenging the positive spin.

The horrors of unsafe care exposed by hospital inspectors were touched on (momentarily) by Chief Executive Simon Wright. The Trust “will work closely with the CQC and ensure that we can evidence the learning and evidence those things where there may have been confusion”. Not a mention there of staff telling inspectors of unsafe and degrading care; of patients treated like ‘animals’ and ‘cattle’; of inspectors repeatedly going to the aid of patients because there weren’t enough staff. Members of the public expressed horror that staff have to speak to hospital inspectors about unsafe care because they don’t trust internal reporting mechanisms. There’s no evidence the Trust Board is too bothered about this.

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CQC Enforcement Notice: A crisis in local healthcare

In Shropshire, Telford and Wrekin Defend Our NHS, we welcome today’s intervention of the Care Quality Commission (CQC), and the issuing of an enforcement notice. The observations of hospital inspectors – leaked and widely publicised last week – were genuinely shocking.

It is wholly unacceptable that patients in our hospitals have been ‘boarded’ in inappropriate areas, because of a lack of beds – on corridors, in areas without access to call bells or oxygen, or on wards so crowded with extra beds that a resuscitation trolley could not be pushed through.

It is disgusting that hospital inspectors had to go to the aid of patients multiple times because of staff shortages. It is close to unbelievable that those patients included a diabetic patient left without food or fluid for 15 hours; close to unbelievable, too, that a high dependency area was left completely unstaffed for 15 minutes.

We applaud the courage of staff who approached hospital inspectors, and told them of the problems. It was staff who blew the whistle here. A letter from the CQC to hospital trust SaTH reported: “Staff across all areas and grades raised concerns with us about this practice (‘boarding’) and told us they felt it was unsafe, demeaning, undignified, and disgusting. Two staff members told us they felt patients who were boarded were treated like ‘animals’ and ‘cattle’.”

Something has gone very badly wrong at our local hospitals. Julia Evans is Secretary of Shropshire, Telford and Wrekin Defend Our NHS, and is a former A&E Nurse at the Royal Shrewsbury Hospital. She says, “NHS cuts lead to shockingly bad care – and that is the fundamental lesson that must now be learned from the crisis at Princess Royal and the Royal Shrewsbury Hospitals”.

The key questions are around what happens next. We call for the following:

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‘Care Closer to Home’: Another Nail in the Coffin of Future Fit?

Today, Wednesday (1st August), we have finally learned the plans for ‘Shropshire Care Closer to Home’ – community services in Shropshire – and the plans are as bad as they could be.

Future Fit relies on moving care out of the remaining acute hospital, whether that’s at Shrewsbury or Telford, and into community settings. There is a need for new and better community services. The bed, workforce and financial modelling of Future Fit are all dependent on this. The Pre-Consultation Business Case outlines plans for a 35,738 reduction in bed days, a reduction of 5,054 emergency admissions, and a bed base reduction of 110 beds[1]. If community services fail to prevent poor health and to treat people in the community when they do become ill, then Future Fit will also fail.

Then and now – what a difference. In August 2015, Dr Caron Morton – as Chief Officer of Shropshire CCG – wrote to local GPs to inform them of new investment in community services[2]. The plan was for the ‘transfer of financial resources into community provision – identified as £5.3 million recurrently per annum’.

And what has that £5.3m a year been replaced with? The ‘Care Closer to Home’ overview[3] released by Shropshire CCG today states bluntly, ‘SCCG has no additional money to pay for this way of working’! Instead, the plan is to close existing community services to pay for new services – but that means taking community NHS care away from people who depend on it now.

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Statement: Local Politicians betray the NHS

Telford and Wrekin Council’s rebranding of ‘PRH4Me’ as ‘NHS4All’ is little more than a sleight of hand to cover up their parochialism. In calling for support for the Future Fit Option 2, using their tagline “Option 2 – better for all”, they are calling for the Royal Shrewsbury Hospital A&E to be closed and the hospital downgraded. It seems that their ‘4All’ doesn’t include the residents of Shropshire and Powys.

The same parochialism is on offer from the Liberal Democrat Councillors of South Shropshire. They are calling for support for Option 1, with its closure of the A&E and the Women’s and Children’s Centre at the Princess Royal Hospital. Putting Ludlow first means not caring about the residents of Telford and Wrekin.

And all six of our MPs covering the Future Fit region are trying to avoid comment on the proposed cuts and closures altogether by focusing just on the £312m capital funding – forgetting to mention it’s a loan that must be paid back, with much of the funding coming from a PFI-type deal (Project Phoenix).

All these politicians, councillors and MPs alike, are avoiding the real question. Future Fit is bad for everyone – no matter which A&E is closed. No one benefits from the Future Fit plans to cut hospital nursing staff by over 20%. No one is helped by the plan for a 10% cut in the number of medical beds – the beds available for urgent and emergency patients admitted to A&E. It is the shortage of these beds that led again and again to long trolley waits and A&E crisis in both our hospitals last winter. No one benefits from an ambulance service, already stretched to breaking point, being asked to take on more and longer journeys with no extra resources. Ambulance wait times will increase for everyone. No one benefits, either, from mortgaging our financial future with loan repayments of £10-20m a year taken away from spending on local patient care.

The health bosses will say that if you support either Option 1 or Option 2, you are supporting the underlying package with all its associated cuts. It will not matter what caveats or concerns are expressed. Support for either option means precisely that: support, including support for cuts and closures.

Up until last summer, the health bosses had publicly promised there would be a third option – keep things as they are. They took that option away at the Joint CCG meeting last August. They realised most people want to keep both our A&Es open. They are now back to playing a divide and rule game. That’s why the only thing they are asking people to comment on is which A&E gets closed. We say a National Health Service means decent quality health services for everyone, no matter where they live.

Simon Wright, the Chief Executive of hospital trust SaTH, let slip the truth when he was speaking to a meeting of Shropshire Patients Group in November 2015: “We would all prefer to have two A&Es”. He then explained that the reason Future Fit was going to close one of them was that “only one is feasible given our resources.” In other words, it’s a cut to clinical care on the basis of NHS underfunding.

Some of our elected politicians seem to think the best way to play Future Fit is ignore the real damage it will do, and just say to their local voters, “I’m sticking up for you”. Presumably they are hoping no one will blame them for the real cuts in NHS services that they are effectively supporting. They seem to think that supporting one variant or another of NHS cuts is the best they can do –in both Telford and Ludlow, councillors are saying the option to keep two A&Es is not on the table.

That’s allowing the health bosses to set the agenda. We don’t have to do that. In Huddersfield a two-year campaign that united people in saying they needed both of their A&Es won a victory last month. The Secretary of State halted a plan to downgrade the Huddersfield Royal Infirmary that had been proposed by the local health bosses. Unity across the area affected by the closure led directly to that victory.

We can do the same. Let’s not be taken in by the health bosses divide and rule tactics. Let’s say no to both options. Let’s say no to fewer nurses and fewer medical beds. Let’s fill in our Future Fit Surveys marked ‘STRONGLY DISAGREE’ for BOTH Option 1 and Option 2.

Shropshire, Telford & Wrekin Defend Our NHS
04 June 2018