No funding for Shrewsbury Health and wellbeing hub

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NHS Shropshire, Telford and Wrekin have released a statement after pausing plans for a controversial Shrewsbury Health and Wellbeing Hub after not being able to access funding.

The plan was to house six local GP practices in a new, state-of-the-art health and wellbeing hub in the Meole Brace area of Shrewsbury. Now plans have been paused after NHS Shropshire, Telford and Wrekin were not able to access the capital required for the project.

Dr Nick White, Chief Medical Officer at NHS Shropshire, Telford and Wrekin said in a statement:

“NHS Shropshire, Telford and Wrekin has reluctantly taken the decision to pause work on the Shrewsbury Health and Wellbeing Hub.

“In January 2023, NHS England issued a letter to NHS Shropshire, Telford and Wrekin which instructed that the national Cavell Centre Programme, locally known as the Shrewsbury Health and Wellbeing Hub, and its constituent six pilot programmes, should be paused pending approval of the national business case.

“Since then, we have received no further communication of when the business case will be going forward for approval. We are also aware that even if the business case did go forwards, there are still no guarantees that the capital funding would be made available in the current economic climate.

“Given that indications now point to the pause being medium to long term, NHS Shropshire, Telford and Wrekin has reluctantly taken the decision to pause all further work and expenditure at this point.

“It is important to clarify that this is a national directive for all six pilot programmes, and that the local projects as part of the Cavell Centre Programme cannot influence the decision.”

Councillor Alex Wagner, who led the Save our Surgeries campaign said:

“It is good to hear NHS Shropshire acknowledge that there is no point spending more and more time and money on a project that just isn’t viable.

“For many residents, the scheme posed a fundamental threat to their ability to access primary care services. In a town the size of Shrewsbury, having one hub for 40,000+ patients was always going to be a huge logistical task – and have a major fallout.

“The one silver lining to plans was that NHS England saw there was sufficient need to spend £40-60 million on GP services in Shrewsbury.

“We now need our leaders to push them to invest in the sort of services people can access, and improve GP provision for all – not just those who can get there.”

Practice closures

The cessation may mean that some of the practices involved could close as a consequence, according to the statement.

The six practices involved are The Beeches Medical Practice, Belvidere Medical Practice, Claremont Bank Surgery, Marden Medical Practice, Marysville Medical Practice and South Hermitage Surgery.

The statement continued by Dr Nick White: “This is a hugely disappointing position given the significant amount of work that has been undertaken and the very clear case for change. This does pose an extremely challenging situation to our practices if we are not able to access the £40-£60m national capital allocation for the programme. Currently, there is no mechanism for securing this level of funding which means we now need to plan for an alternative future.

“We will of course do all we can to avoid practice closures, but we will need to consider the consequences of practices that may no longer be able to continue to provide services, and as a result hand back their contract.

“We are now in discussions with the six practices about next steps and revisiting each practice individually to explore what could be achieved to support them going forward.

However, it is important to note that this will be to stabilise the practices as best we can and not about futureproofing or sustaining them in the way that the development of the Shrewsbury Health and Wellbeing Hub would have allowed.”

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