My commitment to quality, accessible and sustainable healthcare for the Ludlow Constituency remains steadfast, including protecting and building upon services available through Bridgnorth Community Hospital.
Shropshire Clinical Commissioning Group has been reviewing some of the important services provided in community hospitals in Bridgnorth and other market towns in the county. I am well aware that when the words ‘health’ and ‘review’ are mentioned together, it can raise concerns.
So I want to reassure local residents of my commitment as your local MP to Bridgnorth Hospital, which remains a vital asset for the community, and must continue to play an important role in delivering healthcare for Bridgnorth and the surrounding area.
The backdrop to this review is the wider Future Fit programme, put in place by the Clinical Commissioning Group, which seeks to establish the best way to deliver healthcare across Shropshire for the future. As the population gets older, thanks to increasing life expectancy, our health needs change. Chronic conditions become more prevalent, and more care closer to home is expected. So it is appropriate local clinicians look at how the health needs of local patients can be best served, to join up care to help treat patients effectively.
Encouragingly, the Future Fit programme is predicated on moving more services out of acute settings closer to patients in the community. While much of the attention on Future Fit in the local media has been its effect on A&E services in Shrewsbury and Telford, any change in these acute hospitals must enable more services in the community, to help prevent more frail and elderly people from needing acute care in the first place. So I see this as an opportunity for Bridgnorth, as the Hospital and staff perform brilliant work and provide an effective local service.
I am hopeful the Future Fit public consultation will get under way shortly, which will give all of us who care about acute and community health services in Shropshire the chance to make our views clear in a formal process. But I would suggest that advances in the way we treat some conditions often means embracing change, like new technology and new models of care.
There is clear value in working together to protect and secure enhanced local health services. But to succeed local people and campaigners must engage with local NHS leaders who make decisions affecting provision here in Shropshire.