Be done with this nostalgia. Let us consider the position today. As Dr Paul Brown predicted 30 yrs ago, Shropshire cannot support two major hospitals. The current structure is completely unsustainable, will go bankrupt in the near future, and must be reformed as soon as possible. I had long hoped for a brand new replacement hospital, somewhere between Telford and Shrewsbury, on a green field site. The first stage of this would have been a new 'Emergency Centre' taking all the 'blue light' emergencies in Shropshire and Mid Wales, leaving the two existing hospital sites to deal with all 'non time critical' patients. It's an option which has been carefully studies over last year. But sadly, and disappointingly, I fear this optimum option will be kicked into oblivion later this week. I anticipate us being told it is unaffordable. I do despair.
So what can we expect to hear on Thurs. In my view there cannot much doubt about where we are going - one Shropshire hospital dealing with 'emergency care', and one Shropshire hospital dealing with diagnostic and elective care. No matter how this is cut, it means a significantly lesser range of services available at both hospitals - in the interests of a better sustainable service as a whole across Shropshire and Mid Wales. The big question for Montgomeryshire is which arrangement best suits us. I've agonised over this. Believe me, it's not an easy question to answer.
There are other (in my view secondary) questions as well. What is going to happen to the spanking new Women's and Children's Hospital in Telford, and where are those currently going to A&Es who are not deemed emergencies going to be treated in future. We do know there will be a network of what are called Urgent Care Centres, strategically located around Shropshire to deal with this. But we have not a clue what will happen to my constituents in Montgomeryshire. I do find this policy vacuum hard to comprehend.
I anticipate we will all know a bit more detail later in the week. The one thing that is not going to happen is nothing. Structural reform of the NHS in Shropshire is going to happen. And soon. And if Wales does not engage with this reform, it's going to happen anyway. Not surprisingly I've been worried about this for months. I fear we are already in the position of commenting on decisions made by others, rather than contributing to the making of the decisions that impact on us.
And while I'm commenting on cross-border health issues, let me tell you about a constituent who wrote to me today. She is due two replacement knees. She is in great pain, and has been told that if she lived in England she would wait 2 months for her operations. But since she lives in Wales she will have to wait 9 months. It's enough to make you cry.