Labour-led Telford and Wrekin Council took the decision to submit an objection to the proposed closure of the Accident and Emergency unit at the Princess Royal Hospital. Our CLP Secretary, Catriona Graham, contacted the chair of the Independent Reconfiguration Panel to highlight our common concerns. The full letter is posted below.
The Lord Ribeiro CBE
Chair Independent Reconfiguration Panel
Independent Reconfiguration Panel
157-197 Buckingham Palace Road
Dear Lord Ribeiro,
Re: Telford and Wrekin’s referral to the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care
We are writing to you further to the referral to you of an objection raised by Telford and Wrekin Council to the proposed closure of the Accident and Emergency unit at the Princess Royal Hospital (“PRH”) Telford. Telford and Wrekin Council has written to the Secretary of State because it does not believe that the closure is in the best interests of the residents of its area. We haven’t had sight of its submission to the Secretary but can readily understand and support the basis on which it was made. We are writing to you because we believe that the interests of the residents of the Shrewsbury area are also not best served by the proposed closure. This is for a number of reasons.
First, the closure is integral to the Shropshire Clinical Commissioning Groups’ proposals for the reconfiguration of health services ( known as “Future Fit”) which include an overall reduction in the acute care capacity in the county that also serves bordering Mid Wales. Clearly this will impact on Shrewsbury patients, as well as on those based in neighbouring rural constituencies, because of the increased pressure on acute care services located in Shrewsbury.
Second, the plans to close the A and E at Telford are concomitant with those to transfer some planned care from Royal Shrewsbury Hospital (“RSH”) to PRH. PRH is located 18 miles from Shrewsbury and 24 miles from parts of the constituency outside of the town. A number of rural areasoutside of Shrewsbury are particularly ill-served by public transport at present and are likely to be increasingly so further to the proposed ending of some bus services from this financial year onwards. Future Fit proposals are made on a number of assumptions including an improvement to bus services. Shropshire Council is proposing to makes savings of £450K in subsidizing these services.
The notion that there are worse health outcomes the further a patient lives from health facilities, ‘distance decay’, is well documented and summarized in the British Medical Journal’s open document of 2016, with which you will be familiar. The worse outcomes are most likely to have an impact on two particular groups of our constituents.
Shrewsbury And Atcham has a higher than national average population of those aged 65 and over. According to Shropshire Council’s figures, 21.3% of our population wasaged 65 and over in 2015 as compared to a national figure of 17.9 %. The health care requirements of the very elderly are well understood. However it is also noted that, according to NHS Digital, those aged between 65 and 69 years of age made up the largest group in terms of the number of hospital admissions in 2015-2016. Access to hospital facilities not only for emergency but also for planned care is vital.
In common with Telford, Shrewsbury is an area with significant pockets of deprivation. It contains five areas which score either one or two in the national Index of Multiple Deprivation. One of these ranks amongst the top decile of deprivation including in the specific domain of Health Deprivation and Disability. If you are included within this demographic then accessing health care at a further distance is problematic for a number of reasons including financial ones.
Both our ageing population and our more deprived residents need access to planned health care locally, in Shrewsbury.
As it would appear to be deleterious to the interests of residents both in Telford and Shrewsbury, as much as it would to those in our neighbouring constituencies , we very much hope that your Panel will recommend that the closure of the A&E at Telford should not take place.
Catriona Graham, Secretary.