FINALLY, after months of waiting, the people of Powys will have their say on where they want to see a hospital Accident and Emergency Centre.

This morning the UK Government announced that £312million will be given to the Shropshire, Telford and Wrekin sustainability and transformation partnership (STP) to transform hospital services.

No date has been announced for the start of the consultation yet, as it still needs to be approved by NHS England, but NHS Future Fit who will be doing the work has said it's likely to start in May.

Health campaigner and Powys County Councillor, Joy Jones, was delighted: "Fantastic news this morning.

"I've spent many nail biting months waiting to hear if the money would come along so that Future Fit can restart its work to look at the way forward for future healthcare.

"The people of Powys have waited a long time for this consultation and it is vital that we have our say.

"Future Fit proposes that Shrewsbury should be the main Emergency Centre and that Women and Children’s Services should return.

"This is clearly the best solution but we must not be complacent and everyone living in Powys who relies on hospital services in Shropshire must make sure they respond to this important consultation.

"This really is our last chance to secure the long term future of our hospital services in Shrewsbury and make sure that even more services do not move further away."

Welcoming the news that funding for the Future Fit programme has been secured, Glyn Davies MP, said; "For many years, I have been working for a new Emergency Care Hospital at Shrewsbury to serve Shropshire and Mid Wales.

"It is truly brilliant news that the Secretary of State, Jeremy Hunt has announced today that over £300 million is to be allocated to build this new hospital - the biggest investment in the NHS this year.

"It is also fantastic news for Montgomeryshire, and is just reward for all the work that has led up to this decision.

"The next step is a public consultation which will begin in around four weeks.

"I hope to speak to groups around Montgomeryshire to outline the position, and encourage as many people as possible to respond.

"There is no reason why we cannot now go ‘full steam ahead’ and I expect design and tendering work to be finalised quickly and to see diggers on site early next year.”

Responding to the news that the funding for the capital works has been awarded, Montgomeryshire AM Russell George said: "Reform of the secondary care system which serves Shropshire and much of Mid Wales is one of the most important issues of our generation.

"It will now be essential for Montgomeryshire’s views to be heard loud and clear over the more populated area of Telford in the forthcoming consultation on the preferred option for the future of NHS care in our area. 

"For many years, I have argued that services must be retained and strengthened in Shrewsbury which is a centrally located to serve the healthcare needs of the wider region and those of us here in Montgomeryshire.

Powys Teaching Health Board Chief Executive, Carol Shillabeer said:

“Importantly, this means that these vital proposals that aim to ensure safe and sustainable acute hospital services for half a million people in north Powys, Shropshire, and Telford & Wrekin can now proceed to public consultation, subject to final approval by NHS England.

"We are working with NHS Shropshire Clinical Commissioning Group and Telford & Wrekin Clinical Commissioning Group (CCGs) to ensure that arrangements are in place to engage the people of Powys.

"We look forward to sharing more information once details of the consultation are confirmed.

Health and Social Care Secretary Jeremy Hunt, said: "As the NHS approaches its 70th birthday, we are backing it with one of the largest capital programmes in NHS history.

"As well as a whole new emergency care development in Shropshire, we are backing local NHS services with new buildings, beds and wards so that staff who have been working incredibly hard over winter can have confidence we are expanding capacity for the future."

Dr Simon Freeman, Accountable Officer, Shropshire CCG, said: “Thank you to everyone who has been involved in helping us to reach this point.

"This is a major step forward in making sure we can secure two vibrant hospitals and improve the care received by people across Shropshire, Telford & Wrekin and mid Wales now and in the future.”

David Evans, Chief Officer, NHS Telford & Wrekin Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG), said: “This is a massive endorsement of the tireless work of our clinicians, staff and local people in co-designing the best model of hospital care for our region.

"When we proceed to consultation, we want people across all the areas served to make sure they have their say.”

Simon Wright, Chief Executive, The Shrewsbury and Telford Hospital NHS Trust, added: “This news sends out a clear message to our doctors, nurses and other frontline staff that we will be able to transform our hospital services to improve outcomes for our patients, reduce waiting times and cancellations and to become an even more attractive place for people to come and work.”

The Options are:

Option One: The Royal Shrewsbury Hospital becomes an Emergency Care site and the Princess Royal Hospital becomes a Planned Care site

Option Two: The Princess Royal Hospital becomes an Emergency Care site and the Royal Shrewsbury Hospital becomes a Planned Care site

Under either option, both hospitals would have an Urgent Care Centre that is open 24 hours a day, seven days a week, but Option One is the preferred one.