Shrewsbury and North Shropshire Green Party campaigners, along with many others, are opposed to Future Fit. Below are some of the details of why we think this scheme is bad news for Shropshire.
Help needed to make sure people's voices are heard
Shrewsbury and North Shropshire Green Party campaigners, along with many others, are opposed to Future Fit. Below are some of the details of why we think this scheme is bad news for Shropshire. The Public Consultation is about to begin, running from May to July.
The public needs to know and needs to have a say
The questions we will be asked are skewed in favour of the Future Fit. There is no "Keep both A&Es, use the money to fund frontline services, not shiny new buildings" option. Instead we are asked to choose between Telford or Shrewsbury losing its Emergency Department. But we think it is vital that the public do have their say. We will encourage people to use the comment boxes to call for the money to go on services and keeping both A&Es.
Members and supporters are invited to help organise a local meeting
Green Party members are working with others in Shropshire, Telford and Wrekin Defend Our NHS (SDONHS) to roll out an ambitious county wide programme of meetings to reach as many communities as possible during the consultation period. It doesn’t matter what size or who the audience is; these can be in community centres, church halls or front rooms; they could be public meetings or meetings with WIs, sports clubs, trade unions or any other group. The SDONHS campaign will make sure you get a speaker to explain our case, and copies of campaign materials. You can either get in touch with the Green Party organisers for this campaign, Julian Dean and Julia Farrington, or you can contact SDONHS direct. Details are below.
Shropshire’s unhealthy future
The end of March saw a huge fanfare of celebrations from local MPs and health managers declaring that Shropshire is getting £312m for the local NHS. But not all is as it seems.
It's spending... to make cuts
The money is for "Future Fit"; a plan to reorganise Shropshire’s NHS in order to run it on a lower budget: £135m less money for the NHS every single year. It’s a cuts programme. The plan started out – some years ago - with promises to develop and expand local services, improve care at home, build local centres across the county for everything except for the most extreme cases that would then go to A&E. Then, so they argued, the county would only need one super-duper Emergency Department. But since this scheme was dreamed up all the good bits have been stripped out, and we are now left with an A&E closing, a hospital being dumbed down – and with Shropdoc and other local services at risk alongside these attacks. The "investment" is about paying for massive cuts.
Meanwhile, behind the façade of £312m lie plans to cut 300 nurses, reduce the number of therapy staff by around 20%, and cut the number of medical beds by more than 10%. The crisis of this winter is set to be much, much worse in the future.
The Green Party would love to see excellent local services, with preventative medicine taking the lead, and with hospitals carrying much less of the burden of keeping us healthy. But this is not what is on offer. We are facing the biggest con of a cuts exercise ever seen in the county.
It’s not all taxpayers money (as claimed by Daniel Kawczynksi)
And there was something else they didn’t mention in the tweets and soundbites: the treasury is not actually providing all the money. Some of it – and no one seems to know how much – will have to be raised commercially. The plan is to raise money through something called "Project Phoenix" – a kind of PFI Mark 2. This is about saddling the local NHS with huge debts for decades to come.
Meanwhile the local NHS crisis continues
- Debt and more debt: the hospitals have gone £20m into the red this year. Shropshire Clinical Commissioning Group has an accumulated deficit of over £56m - despite nearly £17m cuts this year. Another £19m is to be cut next year.
- Crisis at A&E: the most significant part of the crisis at A&E is the shortage of hospital beds. A&E becomes full because there are no beds for patients to move into, and patients are left waiting on trolleys for 20, 30, 40 hours before being move to a ward. We know of one very unwell lady in her 90s who waited over 60 hours for a hospital bed.
- Midwife Led Maternity Units under threat: maternity services are being squeezed by health managers who regularly close the midwife led units in Oswestry, Bridgnorth and Ludlow. For a while the excuse was a lack of midwives. Now they say the reason is mothers don’t want to use them, and staff are time wasting by being placed in them. The reality is that these services are being made harder and harder to use, and the plan is to close down the rural midwife led units altogether. It’s a disgraceful attack on local women, and one that puts mothers and babies at risk.
- Out of hours service could go out of county: at present we can phone a local service run by GPs – ShropDoc. But we are to lose this option and will soon have to phone NHS 111. At the same time it is possible that local GPs will also lose the contract to follow up on these calls, with the job likely to go to a large private company called Care UK – and be run from a call centre in Dudley. They have a track record of sending out fewer GPs whilst sending more people to A&E who don’t need to be there. This will put even more pressure on our hospitals and ambulance service.
- A crisis in community NHS care and social care: At any given time, our hospitals in Shrewsbury and Telford have 100 or more patients who don’t need to be there – but the care they need in their own community or their own home just isn’t there. This is why cuts to community hospital beds, community NHS services and social care make no sense at all. It’s also why spending money on hospital buildings - those new glass and steel palaces, with fewer nurses, fewer beds, and less healthcare – is such a monstrous diversion.
We need BOTH our A&Es, BOTH our hospitals – and enough funding for decent health and social care for all of us.
To help organise a meeting in your area, please get in touch.