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Shropshire Star comment: Future Fit has become Shropshire’s Brexit

By Shropshire Star | Opinions | Published:

The health service in Shropshire has made a name for itself, and it is not the sort of name you want to make.

The issues besetting the Shrewsbury & Telford Hospital NHS Trust have made national news headlines, and that can only add to the problems.

If you were an ambitious professional in the National Health Service, would a spell at this trust be something you would want on your CV?

As staff recruitment is among the many things that the trust is having to wrestle with, a tainted reputation makes a difficult situation even worse.

This week came news that the number of cases being looked at by an independent inquiry into maternity care in Shropshire has increased by 300.

As we have already been told that lessons have been learned and new measures have been put in place, this is, we must hope, a historic failure rather than a continuing one, and it is an unhappy episode which will cast a dark shadow for a long time yet.

Then there is the seemingly never-ending Future Fit process which will shape the delivery of NHS care in Shropshire.

The views of the medical professionals are naturally very important, but there again so are the views of the people who will be on the receiving end of the service.

Complicating everything is the political perspective, as demonstrated by the fate of Labour’s initial general election candidate for Shrewsbury, Dr Laura Davies, who spoke out of turn by supporting the idea of a single hospital for Shrewsbury and Telford, and as a result was unceremoniously dumped at the last minute.

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Since the general election Shaun Davies, the Labour leader of Telford & Wrekin Council, has backed the same idea of a “super hospital.” And nobody has sacked him.

So maybe it’s not what you say, but the timing of what you say – and on the subject of timing, Laura Davies thinks it’s now too late for the super hospital idea to go ahead.

Future Fit has become like Shropshire’s Brexit and like Brexit, at some stage the arguments have to stop to get things done.

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In Nick Ralls, the Ironbridge Gorge Museum has a safe pair of hands on the wheel, on the tiller, or whatever it is you have on steam trains.

He has come to Ironbridge as chief executive, having left his post as general manager of that other great Shropshire attraction, the Severn Valley Railway.

This is a premier league transfer. The Ironbridge museum is an award winner, and the Ironbridge Gorge is a World Heritage Site.

As a new person in the role, he will no doubt bring with him some of his own ideas, consolidating the museum’s success, and building on it. As an independent museum, there is also the bread and butter stuff of generating income.

“It’s quite similar to the railway in that we have to survive on attracting people to this fantastic place and making sure they have a good time,” he says.

Thinking about it, now that Ironbridge Power Station is being demolished, there once used to be a Severn Valley Railway line which ran from Ironbridge railway station along the river and right through that power station site. Just pointing it out, Nick.

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