When will hospital services consultation start?

Reporter:

Elgan Hearn

NHS HEALTH executives believe the time to talk amongst themselves is drawing to a close.

They believe the public should give an opinion on proposals to change health services in Shropshire.

But a start date for the consultation still seems as distant as ever.

Future Fit, which is in charge of the re-organisation, says that it is still waiting for NHS England to sign off on the consultation.

The headaches are now being caused by the need to have assurances from the UK government that around £200 million needed for the changes will be in place.

This needs to happen before a consultation can start.

On this side of the border, health campaigners are frustrated at the lack of progress, but also believe that having a consultation over the hectic Christmas period would have seen less people take part.

Montgomeryshire MP, Glyn Davies, said: “I’ve been feeling frustrated at the process for the last couple of years.

“It’s become such a complex issue.

“What we’re now facing is that NHS England wants assurances that the £200 million in funding is in place before the proposals can go out to consultation.

“Because there was confusion over the proposals, time has been lost.

“The argument has to be put to the government again that Shropshire needs the £200 million and I’m doing my bit to ensure the government releases the funding.”

Health campaigner and Powys County Councillor Joy Jones said: “This is one of the most important consultations on health that we’ve seen in Powys.

“I would like to have seen the consultation happen sooner, but we need as many people as possible to take part in the meetings.

“This is why I’m happy to see it move away from Christmas.

“People have better things to do at that time of year and taking part in a consultation on top of everything else would not have been a priority.”

Back in October, Welshpool Town Council held its own referendum on the proposals.

When the town council decided on a date to hold the referendum, it expected it would have been in the middle of the consultation period.

However that was not the case.

Welshpool Town Clerk, Robert Robinson, said that a delegation would be meeting Future Fit again in the next few days.

Robert Robinson said: “We are due to meet to see them again and it would be nice to come out of that meeting with a date set for the consultation.

“It’s amazing that it’s taking so long, perhaps we need to put them all in a room and not let them out until it’s all been sorted out.”

A spokeswoman for NHS Future Fit said: “NHS Shropshire and Telford & Wrekin Clinical Commissioning Groups (CCG) have received formal feedback from NHS England following the Assurance Panel meeting held on November 16, 2017, and have provided all the information that NHS England requested.

“The CCGs now require confirmation that the capital would be available to support the Future Fit scheme.”

Dr Simon Freeman, accountable officer for NHS Shropshire CCG, said: “I understand that we may hear some news about the capital funding soon.

“Once this is confirmed, we can proceed to public consultation and allow the people of Shropshire, Telford & Wrekin and Mid Wales to have their say about the proposed changes to their hospital services. This is about making sure that we can continue to provide safe, sustainable services going forward.

“Our doctors, nurses and support staff are under tremendous pressure, notwithstanding the time of year, and we need to find ways of better supporting them to do their job and put our hospitals in a position to attract and recruit staff in the future.”

David Evans, chief officer, NHS Telford & Wrekin CCG, said: “I believe our work over the past four years has led to the best way forward.

“We think the time for talking amongst ourselves is over and the public’s views will help direct us and provide us with the right clinically sustainable way forward for the future.

“We know that to do nothing is not an option and we think it’s time to give everyone who uses our hospitals the chance to have their say.”

Email:

elgan.hearn@nwn.co.uk

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