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Shropshire Star comment: Takeover at trust is no victory

By Shropshire Star | Opinions | Published:

Cavalry coming over the horizon – or punishment squad?

It says a lot about how far things have gone with the Shrewsbury and Telford Hospital NHS Trust that the news it is about to be put into special measures will be greeted with relief in many quarters.

And if accompanied by a lifting of the threat of overnight closure at the accident and emergency unit at Telford, it will have the feel of a victory.

But let’s not confuse a victory with an averted defeat. And let’s be clear too that going into special measures represents a failure of local management, and “outsiders” coming in to sort out the mess is not something proud Shropshire should want to see.

It means a loss of local control, and a degradation of local democracy.

Confidence and morale has plunged. The performance of maternity services is under the microscope and other areas of Shropshire’s two main hospitals, the Royal Shrewsbury and Princess Royal, have been the subject of three warning letters sent to the trust by the Care Quality Commission watchdog.

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The areas of concern have involved fundamental issues of patient safety. In a hospital environment things can hardly get more serious than that.

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As for local democracy, there is no countywide consensus on Future Fit, which is striving to develop a strategic way forward for Shropshire’s NHS delivery, with much of the debate layered with politics and geographical allegiance.

Yet the hospitals still enjoy public support as demonstrated by the thousands who took to the streets at the weekend to fight against the plans to close the accident and emergency unit at the PRH overnight.

It is a decision which has brought things to a head and concentrated some minds. The loss of service to Telford area is something to be greatly abhorred, but it has dawned on those who were prepared to countenance the hospitals which will find themselves taking on Telford’s overnight A&E workload will be overwhelmed, possibly even to the point of collapse.

Suddenly, Telford’s problem is everybody’s problem. If the decision to close the A&E at Telford was, intentionally or unintentionally, a cry for help, it seems to have had the desired effect.

The intervention now offers an opportunity to get a grip of the issues.

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