Shropshire

Telford A&E plan branded 'smokescreen' for downgrade

Royal Shrewsbury Hospital Image copyright Press Association / Rui Vieira
Image caption Royal Shrewsbury Hospital is set to be Shropshire's emergency care centre

Plans for a hospital's future emergency care have been branded a "smokescreen" for a downgrade.

An overhaul of Shropshire's hospital services means Royal Shrewsbury is set to become the county's emergency care centre, with provision at Telford's Princess Royal an "A&E Local".

What is meant by "A&E Local" has been unclear, but the government now says Telford will have consultant-led emergency care during "core hours".

A critic called it a part-time service.

Adding to his complaint, Telford & Wrekin Council leader Shaun Davies said the NHS' "core hours" proposal proved "A&E Local" was a "smokescreen" for a downgrade of acute emergency care at Princess Royal.

Plans for the reorganisation of the hospitals were approved earlier this year.

NHS bosses said the changes under the Future Fit programme would ensure services were sustainable for the future.

But campaigners say the changes mean Telford people will have to travel further for emergency care, and fear it will put lives at risk.

Image copyright SATH
Image caption An artist's impression of Shrewsbury's emergency centre

Earlier there was a parliamentary debate on the plans, brought by Conservative MP for Telford, Lucy Allan.

During proceedings, health minister Edward Argar said the changes meant Princess Royal Hospital (PRH) would "continue to provide A&E services".

But Shaun Davies, Labour, said: "A&E Local is just a smokescreen to hide that PRH's full 24-7 A&E service will become a part-time service, with fewer clinicians and with capacity to treat a much smaller number of health conditions."

Health campaigner Gill George added "A&E Local" was a "fancy name for a limited service".

On Tuesday, it emerged Labour's parliamentary candidate for Shrewsbury and Atcham, Dr Laura Davies, had been deselected by the party over "her refusal to support our community's campaign to retain 24-hour A&E hospitals in Shrewsbury and Telford".

She had said previously one hospital in the middle of the two towns would be the best option.

Dr Davies said had found out about her deselection from the BBC, and had been subject to a "pretty sustained campaign of bullying and undermining".

The local party has been contacted for comment.

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