A major blow against a scheme that would have seen NHS services slashed in Shropshire was made on 10 May, as local CCGs’ ‘Future Fit‘ plans were decisively defeated – thanks to the long-standing efforts of local campaigners, who fought long and hard together to gain this victory.
Gill George, Chair of Shropshire, Telford and Wrekin Defend Our NHS, was jubilant:
“Around 80 members of the public went to an ‘Extraordinary Joint CCG Board Meeting’ where health bosses were planning to sign off the blueprint for closing an A&E. The meeting, at Shrewsbury Town Football Club, was packed. People stood at the back of the room because there weren’t enough chairs.
“And what happened? The Board of Shropshire CCG voted against its Chair and Accountable Officer, and rejected the document before them, that would have closed an A&E, downgraded a hospital, and shifted a lot of hospital activity out into the community, for GPs or the Community Trust to pick up – without providing the money and staff to do the extra work.
“To have a CCG Board overturn its own Chair and Accountable Officer and reject a cuts and closure plan that has been the accepted wisdom for 2½ years – that’s unprecedented. That just doesn’t happen. This is a massive blow to the appalling ‘Future Fit’ project.
“Congratulations are due to the Board members for taking their brave and principled decision. Huge credit goes too to the Shropshire Local Medical Committee – the body representing local GPs. They met with Accountable Officer David Evans yesterday afternoon, probably with some vigorous arm twisting going on. Their decision to stand firm and reject the Strategic Outline Case for a second time was tremendous, and the report of this yesterday had a powerful impact on the meeting.
“However, behind these things lies an influential campaign! Today, every activist who has played a part in Shropshire, Telford and Wrekin Defend Our NHS should be very, very proud. This is a victory for the NHS, but it’s been won by us.
“We worked hard for Tuesday’s meeting. Actually an extraordinary and unprecedented victory! It was an amazing meeting. We watched their side crumble in front of us.
We don’t know what’s going to happen next, but they’re in a catastrophic mess. We, on the other hand, seem to be going from strength to strength just now. Exciting times.”
This Shropshire reprieve tells us several things. First, that we are right. These schemes are pouring their poison all over the NHS, masquerading as “transformation” plans. They are nothing of the sort; they are DE-formation plans, stripping apart the NHS for the private health vultures and making yet more cuts to services. They deserve to be as thoroughly killed off everywhere as they were in Shropshire. Second – and thank you, Gill and all her fellow campaigners – WE CAN WIN. This CAN be done. And this is how it will happen, until the law can change. One battle, one locality, one sneaky lie fought against at a time. But we can do it. We must. Join us and stop them, now.