• Shrewsbury and Telford Hospital Trust A&E reconfiguration given green light 
  • Move follows independent reconfiguration panel ruling in support of proposals
  • Reconfiguration will see “hot” and “cold” site split, with A&E services at Telford downgraded

Matt Hancock has given a controversial A&E reconfiguration the green light following almost a decade of delays.

Under the plans, Shrewsbury and Telford Hospital Trust’s emergency department at the Princess Royal Hospital in Telford will be downgraded to an urgent care centre, and all emergency services will be transferred to the Royal Shrewsbury Hospital in Shrewsbury. 

The health and social care secretary’s decision follows a local Labour councillor for Telford, Shaun Davies, referring the reconfiguration plans to the independent reconfiguration panel.

Mr Hancock accepted the IRP’s recommendations for the emergency care centre to be located at RSH and urgent care model placed at PRH.

In a letter to Mr Davies, Mr Hancock said : “I have… asked NHS England to provide advice on how the urgent care centre at PRH can be delivered through an ’A&E local’.”

According to a trust statement, the IRP advice said: “Even if the ever-present problems of recruiting clinical staff to achieve safe rotas were resolved, the current model of emergency services provided through the two hospitals compromises safety and quality.

“The panel heard frequently from the clinicians responsible for delivering these services that this is a daily concern and drives their advocacy for a new model of hospital care which will provide what the population currently does not get – access to consistently safe, high-quality emergency care and treatment 24-hours-a-day, seven-days-a-week.”

In the long-term plan, published in January this year, NHS England and NHS Improvement said splitting services into “hot and cold” sites could make them more efficient.

The plan said for areas where this was not suitable it would introduce a new option of “A&E locals”. Details on what the model could look like are yet to be published.

The reconfiguration of acute services in Shropshire, called the Future Fit scheme, has been subject to years of delay, partly due to political push back on the proposed downgrade of emergency services in Telford.

Following a public consultation, the proposals were finally approved by Telford and Wrekin, and Shropshire clinical commissioning groups in January.

The move follows Shrewsbury and Telford Hospital Trust receiving several warnings from the Care Quality Commission over the safety of its emergency services.

In March last year, the trust was awarded £312m to fund the reconfiguration.

According to the proposals, the Royal Shrewsbury Hospital will deliver emergency care, critical care, women and children’s inpatient services, complex surgery, and ambulatory care.

The Princess Royal Hospital will provide planned inpatient surgery, day case surgery, breast inpatient services, and medical wards.

Paula Clark, interim chief executive at SATH, said: “The [IRP] visited the county to speak not only to our clinicians, but also to those who have objected to the plans, and they have made it clear that the proposals that have been put forward should go ahead without further delay.

”That was the unanimous verdict of all members of the panel.”