Retaining services at the Princess Royal
Since I was first elected, I have been making the case for Telford's Princess Royal to be the home of Shropshire & Powys' proposed new critical care emergency centre. As the years have gone by, no decision has been made and people have become more alarmed and more concerned about the future of our hospital.
I have raised this in Parliament and with the Secretary of State for Health and the Minister for Health repeatedly, as well as meeting regularly with the local decision makers, working with them in a constructive way to ensure Telford keeps the services we need locally. In addition, I have surveyed many thousands of residents to make sure their concerns are heard by local decision makers.
Anyone who has been to A&E at Princess Royal or waited in an ambulance outside will know that it is frequently overwhelmed and at times unsafe. There have been multiple critical incidents declared in the last six months. Shrewsbury and Telford Hospital Trust (SaTH) is, by every performance measure, in the bottom 10% of Trusts across the country. Residents are suffering and we must act.
All local politicians have a duty to work with clinicians, hospital management and the new Integrated Care Board (ICB) to ensure much needed improvements are delivered. Years of controversy over the former Future Fit scheme led to the current failing model of care. So, it is welcome that the new management team have now brought forward revised plans to improve hospital care. We need to help them deliver these plans urgently.
Under these new plans most A&E services currently delivered at Princess Royal Hospital (PRH) will continue to be offered 24/7 including Same Day Emergency Care. Complex critical care patients from across Mid-Wales, Shropshire and Telford will no longer come to PRH. Instead, they will be taken to a specialist critical care centre.
By taking the complex critical care cases out of the system and away from PRH, access for local people to the most frequently used A&E services at PRH will be greatly improved. This model of A&E care, (separating the most critical cases from the rest of A&E care) is used across the country and is one that leads to improvement in safety and access.
The Hospital Trust management, clinicians and ICB are clear: their new improvement plan enhances patient care, patient safety and patient experience for people in Telford & Wrekin. I have asked this question and this is what they have said. I trust our local clinicians to put patient care and patient safety at the heart of their decision making. It is time for all local representatives to trust the judgement of local clinicians and accept their new improvement. We need better care and we need it as a matter of urgency.
The new management team have been willing to engage with me. They have been receptive to my concerns about the old Future Fit plans and they have been prepared to compromise and find a solution to this long running saga. We all want improved access to A&E to minimise the suffering and distress our residents routinely experience trying to get treatment. For this reason, we need to support the Hospital management, the clinicians and the ICB in delivering their improvement plan despite the difficult inflationary environment. This is a plan that local clinicians recommend as in the best interests of local patients.
What is of very great concern is that the failure to reach any decision has affected recruitment of key staff. This has meant that our A&E is now genuinely at risk of temporary night time closures. This is a very serious issue which we cannot allow to happen simply because of the mismanagement of Future Fit and delays caused by Telford & Wrekin Council, threatening the NHS with legal action.
We cannot and must not continue with the existing unsafe model of care. This has been my top priority as Telford's MP and the fight goes on.
You can see more details about what is planned for each hospital site below. This information has been produced by Shrewsbury and Telford Hospital Trust.
- Click here for more information about the Planned Care Site at PRH.
- Click here for more information about the Emergency Site at RHS.
Improving access to GPs in Telford
I am very grateful to the Secretary of State for recognising the struggle my constituents have had when attempting to contact their GP. £250 million will be allocated to those GPs who are willing to offer face-to-face appointments to patients who seek one.
£10m is being made available by the Government to improve telephone systems and appointments. This is vital. Patients in Telford have struggled to join the queue when trying to contact Teldoc. If the phone system does not work, then patients have no access to Primary care. This has serious patient safety implications. Where a GP practice operates a local monopoly there is nothing a patient can do to get access to care by alternative means, other than visit A&E. In turn this creates more pressure on services at the Princess Royal.
I am confident that the Secretary of State for Health understands the barriers my constituents face and is responding promptly to this growing problem.
I regret that the BMA Union strongly opposed the Health Secretary's Winter plan to provide more funding for GPs, conditional on them seeing more patients in person.
Photo above: Lucy Allan MP at the Princess Royal Hospital