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Chaos and confusion over Telford A&E as Boris comes to town

By Nick Humphreys | Telford | General Election 2019 | Published:

For a brief few minutes, it seemed years of campaigning to stop Telford's A&E department from being downgraded had finally paid off.

Boris Johnson at the The International Centre in Telford

But hopes were quickly dashed after Boris Johnson said he would keep it open in his Conservative manifesto reveal ahead of the December General Election.

One of the buzz phrases the Prime Minister has used to describe a potential Jeremy Corbyn-led Labour government has been "chaos and confusion". But when questioned about the Telford A&E situation, it was the PM that left many scratching their heads.

When asked by the Shropshire Star about Mr Corbyn's recent pledge to scrap the Future Fit plans and keep full time A&E services at both Princess Royal Hospital in Telford and Royal Shrewsbury Hospital, Mr Johnson - who had been in fine form delivering his vision - seemed flustered.

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He said on stage: "I'm looking at (Health Secretary) Matt Hancock here because I know that we have kept the A&E open, and we will ensure that it is open and I will absolutely insist on that and I know that Matt will be very happy to give you more details afterwards.We will certainly make sure that the A&E in Telford is kept open."

It was not initially clear whether the Prime Minister meant the A&E as it currently operates or the A&E local, however Mr Hancock soon confirmed there are no plans to change the Future Fit proposals which will leave Shropshire with one full A&E centre at the Royal Shrewsbury Hospital.

The consultant-led women's and children's services in Telford are also set to close under Future Fit.

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Mr Hancock said: "We're going ahead with the plan and that's backing the decision that I published a month ago."

He was then asked what he would say to Telford residents who were disappointed by the downgrading of services. He said: "We're going to have investment in Telford and Shrewsbury. We can deliver that because of the extra funding the stronger economy will provide."

It was quite the blip from the PM who, while delivering his manifesto in Telford, appeared not to have been fully briefed about quite possibly the biggest issue facing its residents.

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Around 100 protesters were also gathered behind metal fences at the venue with large banners, chanting "Boris Boris Boris, Out Out Out!"

But inside Mr Johnson enjoyed a rock star entrance to loud guitar music and rapturous applause from a room full of Tory MPs and party members, with the nation's media packed in at the side of the stage.

He launched confidently into his speech, and enjoyed laughter and applause when he joked that the nation would be "Corbyn-neutral by 2020" and spoke about being delighted to be in Telford, the heart of the industrial revolution.

He sought to characterise the election contest as a battle between "retrograde destructive socialism" under Labour and "sensible one nation Conservatism" under the Tories.

"In this manifesto there is a vision for the future in which we unite our country," he said.

"It is time to unleash the potential of our country and forge a new Britain."

"Get Brexit done and we can focus our hearts and our minds on the priorities of the British people.

We will invest millions more every week in science, in schools, in apprenticeships and in infrastructure, and control our debt at the same time."

The Conservatives chose Telford to launch the manifesto because it is one of the marginal seats. Lucy Allan won the seat by just 720 votes in the 2017 election.

Among the pledges were a triple tax lock - meaning no increases in income tax, National Insurance and VAT for five year, 20,000 more police officer, 50,000 more nurses and to bring back the PM's Brexit deal by Christmas.

Viewers at home who were playing Brexit Phrase Bingo will also have been pleased as they would have been able to tick off "dither and delay" and "Get Brexit Done" multiple times.

Commentators have described the manifesto as "steady as she goes" and that no rabbits were pulled out of the hat. Well, maybe one. But it was quickly stuffed back in.

Nick Humphreys

By Nick Humphreys
Senior Reporter

Senior reporter for the Shropshire Star focusing on Bridgnorth.

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