Thank you, Madam Deputy Speaker, for calling me to speak in this important debate. I welcome the 10-year plan, especially the emphasis on delivering care closer to home.
The future of the NHS is the greatest concern to my constituents in Telford because local health bosses have been deliberating for the past five years on whether to move our A&E and our women and children’s services out of the borough, in a project that they have named NHS Future Fit. On
My opposition to that project has been long-standing, because it does not meet local people’s needs. It does not improve health outcomes and it does not focus on narrowing health inequalities. I believe that if local hospital management understood the people of Telford better, they would not have come up with this plan. Telford is a rapidly growing new town—people are coming to live there all the time—and it has pockets of significant deprivation. By any measure, it fares significantly worse when it comes to health outcomes, life expectancy and the number of children living in low-income families than does Shropshire, which fares better than England’s average on measures of deprivation.
There are some very important points that we must consider when making a transfer of assets from an area of need to an area of affluence, because such an action is wholly inconsistent with the ethos and obligations of the NHS. Some have called my opposition parochial and territorial, and said that if I understood the plans, I might view them in a different light. But as a former non-executive director of a hospital trust, and as someone who has been working with constantly changing senior executives in the local hospital trust and engaging in the details of this plan since its inception in 2013, my opposition is based on an understanding of the healthcare landscape and local need.
We must ask these questions. Does this scheme meet the needs of local people? Is there any evidence that health outcomes will be improved? Is there any evidence that we will narrow health inequalities? Will out-of-hospital care make up for a reduction in planned medical beds and hospital staff? Put simply, the scheme may look good on paper, but will it work in Shropshire?
I have asked the Minister to call in the scheme for review, and I very much hope that he does.