JUST over a week into it's summer long consultation on the future of NHS services in Shropshire and Future Fit is already receiving heavy criticism.

Labour Constituency Parties for Shropshire and Montgomeryshire have said that the consultation is pitting communities against each other, and earlier this week, meetings in the Telford area explaining the options had to be cancelled due to a protest by the Defend our NHS Group.

The Constuituency Labour Parties (CLPs) have sent an open letter to the chief executives of both Shropshire Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG) and Telfor and Wrekin CCG expressing their doubts over the proposals.

The letter called "Future Fit: Not Fit and No Future" and signed by all six CLP chairs including Montgomeryshire's Gillian Blackburn, claim that Future Fit offers "nothing more" than a "short-term cost-cutting exercise" leaving "just one A&E department (so called emergency department) to serve the whole of Shropshire and Mid Wales while reducing other key services and making others harder for patients and their families to access."

The letter goes on to claim that the "expensive new buildings" will see bed capacity reduce by 40 and around 330 fewer nurses and other promised improvements such as community NHS services, public health programmes and social care provision disappear.

The chairs jointly say: "A down -graded Princess Royal Hospital in Telford will lose its A&E department and its new £28million Women and Children's Centre, The Royal Shrewsbury Hospital will no longer do planned operations and rural areas will lose their Maternity Units.

"The ambulance service will be placed under still greater pressure and patients will have to travel further for routine treatment.

"We are open to any set of proposals which will improve the level and quality of care for our communities.

"But we cannot support measures which will have the opposite effect and which place both patients and staff at high risk."

"Moreover, we deplore a consultation exercise which is designed to divide communities by forcing them to choose between two much needed hospitals.

The CLP chairs are now urging both Shropshire Clinical Commissioning Group and Telford and Wrekin CCG to withdraw the consultation.

The consultation started on May 30 and is set to run until September 2.

A series of special public exhibition of the proposals will be held in Shropshire with one to be held at the Elephant and Castle Hotel in Newtown from 3.30pm to 7.30pm on Thursday, June 28.

Dr Simon Freeman, Accountable Officer, NHS Shropshire CCG said: “Over the last four and a half years, we’ve listened to what people have told us about the services and care they expect us to offer at the two hospitals in the future. We understand people’s frustration at the time it has taken to reach this point.

However, we are now urging people to take the opportunity to formally have their say, so that we can consider their views and any changes we may need to make to our proposed plans before making any decisions.”

The options are:

Option1: The Royal Shrewsbury Hospital becomes an Emergency Care site and the Princess Royal Hospital becomes a Planned Care site

(This is the CCGs’ preferred option)

Option 2: 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. where patients would receive care for illnesses and injuries that are not life or limb-threatening but require urgent attention.

All meetings and events will be publicised on the website www.nhsfuturefit.org