• Shrewsbury and Telford Hospital Trust was set to close an A&E department overnight
  • The service has been given a temporary reprieve after additional staff were brought in
  • But a public consultation around the service is still ongoing

A trust has reversed its decision to close one of its accident and emergency departments overnight after being given flexibility over the pay cap for agency doctors.

Shrewsbury and Telford Hospital Trust has today announced it will keep Telford A&E open overnight after contracting seven middle grade doctors and 15 nurses to work in the hospital until March 2019.

The provider expects that by January it will have more than 20 middle grade doctors working across its two A&Es and by February will have three additional A&E consultants. Chief executive Simon Wright said regulators had allowed the trust to be “flexible” with the pay cap for middle grade agency doctors.

The news comes following public outcry over the previous proposals, which were made in October.  The chief executive of Royal Wolverhampton Trust also criticised SATH for “poor” planning around the closure, arguing that it could have been prevented. It is not clear to what extent this intervention has been a factor in reversing the decision.

On 6 November HSJ reported that the trust was due to be placed into special measures by NHS Improvement. The regulator’s decision came after the provider received three enforcement action notices from the Care Quality Commission. At the time a spokeswoman for the trust said it still intended to close its A&E overnight.

Telford A&E still appears likely to close in the future, however.

A public consultation on the reconfiguration of SATH’s acute services is ongoing, which proposes that all emergency services are transferred to the Princess Royal Hospital in Shrewsbury, while planned care would take place at Telford Hospital.

Mr Wright said: “This is fantastic news. We had said all along that we didn’t want to close either of our A&Es overnight, but that we simply couldn’t keep both open because of the staff shortages in our emergency departments.

“The news of the £312 million investment for the reconfiguration of our two hospitals has allowed us to recruit more consultants, including in A&E. I’d like to especially thank colleagues in the wider NHS, including my colleagues in the north west of England, for their support and sign-posting the trust to potential staff.”

He also thanked NHS Improvement for allowing it to be “flexible” with the pay cap for middle grade doctors.