I do not believe that the current acute arrangements serve the people of North Shropshire well. As it stands people face a forty minute journey to A&Es in either Shrewsbury or Telford.
We have seen key clinical specialities move to more advanced hospitals in the West Midlands; seriously ill patients have to travel to Stoke for heart and stroke treatment. The two separate A&Es are struggling to recruit enough quality consultants.
My preferred option for the future is to establish a state of the art Emergency Centre covering the whole of Shropshire. This would not just attract top class clinical specialists but would actually bring back skills and services to Shropshire, bringing them closer to local people. Balancing this, I want to see the bulk of care currently undertaken by the two distant A&Es delivered much closer to home in Urgent Care Centres. This could be done by enhancing the services of the Oswestry Health Centre built after our successful campaign. On the eastern side of North Shropshire I would like to see an Urgent Care Centre in Whitchurch Community Hospital.
In Oswestry we won the case to bring x-ray and plastering services to the town. This has stopped people who have routine fractures from having to travel, in pain, to Wrexham or Shrewsbury. These are the sort of services I would like to see provided by the Urgent Care Centres locally, carrying out the majority of A&E services with only the most serious, life threatening cases travelling to a state of the art hospital outside North Shropshire.
I have chaired meetings every two months with health providers, local councils and other interested parties, since the campaign to keep open the local Maternity Unit at Gobowen more than ten years ago. At the last three meetings of the Oswestry Health Group there has been unanimous support for the concept of establishing an Urgent Care Centre in both Oswestry and Whitchurch. I look forward to hearing that the final Future Fit proposals will confirm these original far sighted plans which will deliver much better healthcare locally for all of us in North Shropshire. The Future Fit process has dragged on for far too long. We need a clear decision to deliver for local people.