Princess Royal Hospital, Telford

Part of the debate – in Westminster Hall at 11:15 am on 5th November 2019.

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Photo of Edward Argar Edward Argar Minister of State (Department of Health and Social Care) 11:15 am, 5th November 2019

I thank my hon. Friend Lucy Allan and congratulate her on securing this important debate. As ever, she spoke on behalf of her constituents with passion and determination. She and I entered the House on the same day in 2015, and I would be mortified if she did not return after the election, although I suspect she will. I know that the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, to whom she referred throughout her speech, would share my sentiments and wish for her to return to the House because she is an exemplary Member of Parliament, even though, on occasion, she may press us to go further when she is speaking up for her constituents.

I echo the spirit of my hon. Friend’s speech by thanking everybody who works in our amazing NHS for everything they do, particularly those who work in her local hospital in Telford. I know that there are strong feelings on all sides of this debate, but whatever the differences of view, everyone involved—particularly my hon. Friend—wants to do the right thing for patients.

As hon. Members will know, major service change in the NHS is complex. My right hon. Friend Mr Dunne, a distinguished former Minister of State for Health, knows that only too well and alluded to it in his remarks. Major service change involves a number of factors, and it is vital that the voices of local people and their MPs, including my hon. Friend the Member for Telford, are heard and respected at all stages. I am grateful for the opportunity to provide a brief overview of the plans and to update my hon. Friend on our progress in recent days.

My hon. Friend mentioned the Future Fit plans. The set of proposals that fall under that heading have been under development for a number of years. The case for change was first articulated about 10 years ago, and the clinically driven scheme proposed to transform services across Royal Shrewsbury Hospital and Princess Royal Hospital. A 15-week consultation on those proposals ran in summer 2018, and feedback was received from more than 18,000 responses.

The joint committee of the Shropshire and Telford and Wrekin clinical commissioning groups decided to proceed with the preferred option of the local Future Fit programme. That programme would see the Princess Royal Hospital in Telford become a dedicated planned care site and the Royal Shrewsbury Hospital become a specialist emergency care site. Under those proposals, patients would continue to be able to access 24-hour urgent care services at both hospitals, meaning that 80% of patients would continue to go to the same hospital for emergency and urgent care. The model would also see women and children’s consultant-led in-patient services provided at the Royal Shrewsbury in the future.

As has been alluded to, in March this year Telford and Wrekin Council referred the scheme to the Secretary of State, who in turn referred it to the Independent Reconfiguration Panel, which then provided its advice to the Department on 31 July.

Turning to the crux of my hon. Friend’s concerns about the A&E and urgent and emergency care, she is right that all patients should receive excellent healthcare throughout their life, no matter where they live. Any changes to services are rightly based on clinically led decisions at the local level. I am delighted that, as she mentioned, we are investing £312 million to support acute services in the local area.

The Secretary of State, following thorough consideration, accepted the IRP’s impartial advice, which looked at urgent and emergency care across Shrewsbury and Telford, and recommended that the emergency care centre for the region should remain at the Royal Shrewsbury. My hon. Friend the Member for Telford has been courteous but clear about disagreeing with that advice, on behalf of her constituents.

The Secretary of State also asked NHS England to come forward with proposals within a month on how to keep the A&E in Telford open as an A&E local, to ensure that the Princess Royal Hospital can continue to deliver the urgent and emergency care that the residents of my hon. Friend’s constituency need and value so much. That request drew on the advice provided by the IRP. Plans for A&E locals are being developed by NHS England and NHS Improvement, and the Department has been in close contact about those developments.

NHS England has now published the proposal, following the Secretary of State’s request. He and I are delighted with the development. The Shrewsbury and Telford trust has put forward a model that will enable an enhanced service that is distinct from an urgent treatment centre. The model will increase the volume of activity that can safely be delivered through the proposed urgent treatment centre on the planned care site at PRH.

I understand that the Secretary of State and NHS England have today written to my hon. Friend the Member for Telford. If I may, I will touch on what that letter says. She may well wish to come back on it, once I have let her know what it states. The Secretary of State has been clear: the A&E at the Princess Royal Hospital, Telford, will remain open as an A&E local.