Health Secretary backs Future Fit plans to transform hospital services

We are delighted that Matt Hancock, the Health Secretary, has now given his backing to our exciting plans to transform local hospital services for the half a million residents of Shropshire, Telford & Wrekin and mid Wales. This is fantastic news for local people, and now we all need to get behind the plans to improve services and to spend the £312m from NHS England effectively to meet the needs of our community.

The Health Secretary has accepted the advice of the Independent Reconfiguration Panel (IRP), which was appointed to review the Future Fit decision to transform hospital services and advise the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care. The IRP visited the county to speak to clinicians, but also to those who had raised concerns about 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.

In its advice, the Independent panel said, “The opportunity to visit the services and test the evidence with those involved locally served to reinforce the written evidence about the case for change. 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 do not get – access to consistently safe, high quality emergency care and treatment 24 hours a day, seven days a week.”

After careful consideration the IRP has concluded that:

1.    The new model of care should be implemented, and that the emergency care centre is better located at Royal Shrewsbury Hospital.

2.    The urgent care model should enable as much clinically appropriate care to be delivered at the Princess Royal Hospital as possible.

The Health Secretary has asked NHS England to provide advice on how the ‘urgent care model’ at Princess Royal Hospital can be delivered through an ‘A&E local’. NHS England has been asked to provide advice on the ‘A&E local’ model as soon as possible and to report progress within one month.

We fully embrace the IRP’s recommendations and are now working closely with our partner organisations to ensure that they are implemented effectively. The recommendations are:

1.    The Sustainable and Transformation Partnership (STP) is making welcome changes and must be fully supported to enable the NHS and its partners to collaborate effectively.
2.    The STP has already brought the Future Fit hospital programme under its auspices as   one element of the work to deliver the NHS Long Term Plan. The STP should ensure that out of hospital services are given the priority and leadership required to achieve whole health system transformation within available financial resources.
3.    The new model of hospital care should be implemented without delay.
4.    The emergency care centre is better located at Royal Shrewsbury Hospital.
5.    The urgent care model should enable as much clinically appropriate care to be delivered at Princess Royal Hospital as possible. Options for diagnostics, ambulatory emergency care and frailty assessment must be considered.
6.    The STP should ensure that independent expertise is brought in to facilitate development of the new models of service.  
7.    The STP should ensure the transformation of service delivery and its impact on staff roles and skills is fully reflected in its workforce programme and plans.

We welcome the careful consideration that the IRP has given to our plans for patients to receive the best care in the right place at the right time, in better facilities with reduced waiting times. Their endorsement will also ensure that we can attract the very best doctors and nurses to work at our hospitals and we can maintain the right level of highly skilled clinicians across both our hospitals.

The IRP is made up of clinical, managerial and lay members offering wide-ranging experience in clinical healthcare, NHS management and public and patient involvement. The focus of the IRP’s work is the patient and quality of care within the context of safe, sustainable and accessible services for local people.

The IRP report is available at

More information can be found at