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Council and MP row over threat of legal action on hospital changes

Telford & Wrekin Council has threatened to take legal action against Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt over a proposed move of hospital departments out of the town.

The threat has plunged the council into a row with a local MP, who has called for it to be abolished and absorbed into neighbouring Shropshire.

An NHS reorganisation may see the accident and emergency unit moved from Telford hospital to Shrewsbury along with a £28m women and children’s unit opened only two years ago.

Although a final decision has been deferred the council has warned it could take legal action over the way the decision-making process was run.

Leader Shaun Davies said: “The deferment…is exactly what we had been asking for because of the concerns we have around proper consideration of the issues at stake that would affect access to health care for all our residents.

“However I must be very clear. Don’t be fooled - this issue has not gone away.

“We need to make sure that, however long the deferment is and we believe this will need at least a month, that this time is used properly to address the very significant concerns we have raised around the decision-making process.”

A joint letter to Mr Hunt from Labour’s Cllr Davies and the Conservative and Liberal Democrat group leaders - Andrew Eade and Bill Tomlinson respectively - said: “It makes no sense to move the very successful women & children’s unit only two years after it opened and reverse the proven clinical case for this unit being based in Telford”.

However, Owen Paterson, Conservative MP for neighbouring North Shropshire and a former Environment Secretary, said: “It is absolutely infuriating that Telford and Wrekin Council have now decided to mount a legal challenge using taxpayers’ money.

“As I understand it they have been closely involved in the process all along; their challenge is either based on ignorance or a deliberate attempt to mislead the public that the A&E in Telford might close.”

Mr Paterson said the council had misrepresented the NHS’ proposed changes, as an urgent care centre would continue to function in the town.

“Telford and Wrekin Council is not fit for purpose,” he said.

“It was a great mistake to break up Shropshire in1998; it has been a continuous entity since Saxon times. I am quite clear that it would be much better to close down Telford and Wrekin Council, put the significant savings into public services and establish a unitary council working for the good of the whole of Shropshire.”

Cllr Davies called the MP’s views ”outrageous” and added that residents were “sick and tired” of politicians who did not represent the town saying what services it should have.

Mark Smulian

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