Following on receiving a reply from the two Shropshire Clinical Commissiining Groups, we are now in a position to critique the response. Here is our Press Release to the Shropshire Star dated July 13th.
It’s taken 4 weeks for the 6 Labour Constituency Parties from Shropshire and Montgomeryshire to get a reply from the two Shropshire Clinical Commissioning Groups to their 20 questions about Future Fit. The 6 page reply only provides one straight answer, says Catriona Graham, Shrewsbury & Atcham’s Constituency Secretary. ‘It seems they are still trying to join the dots on a number of crunch questions. Should they be consulting us at all with so many gaps in their plans?’
For example, the consequences of closing one hospital A&E, either at Shrewsbury or Telford, and concentrating planned care in the other mean that more patients will rely on the ambulance service so what is being done to make sure the service can cope when its struggling already? They don’t know yet! There will be a report.
A number of non emergency patients, and visitors, will have to travel further, relying on public transport and particularly buses. There’s a Travel & Transport Group looking into this. With bus subsidies being cut all over the place, what realistic chance is there of more or better services?
Daniel Kawczynski MP claims we are getting a great deal with this £312 million. In fact, he says that Labour is ‘taking a dangerous position’ questioning Future Fit. Yet, there are big gaps in the financial package, not to mention confusion about where the money is coming from. At the end of May, Simon Freeman, the Accountable Officer for the Shropshire CCG said that ‘land sales’ would partly fund the £312 million, now the same man signs a letter stating that ‘there is currently no NHS land proposed for sale’. Which is correct? Just to be clear, if they don’t know the source of all the borrowing, they don’t know the cost of it. The costs of the borrowing identified so far will swallow £11 million a year out of the Trust’s revenue budget – which is what pays for running costs and salaries.
There is still not a straight answer to questions about the reductions in staff planned as part of Future Fit. The Business Case makes clear that there will be staffing cuts, but the question asking for more details is avoided with a careful statement that ‘there are no plans for any current jobs to be put at risk’. Could that be because there are so many unfilled vacancies?
Replying to Question 11, the CCGs refer to ‘much lower occupancy levels’ of hospital beds being a key part of their plan. When the best way to reduce pressure on hospital beds is better services out in the community, and Shropshire Council has just announced big cuts to its public health budget, including to joint commissioning with the CCGs, its hard to share the CCGs’ blind faith on this.
Any reader interested in reading the full text of the CCGs’ reply will find it online at www.shrewsburylabour.org.uk