A LUDLOW nurse has called upon Philip Dunne MP not to forget his own backyard as he takes up a new role at the Department of Health.

Philip Dunne has been moved sideways and swaps his role as Minister for Defence Procurement for one as Minister of State for the Department of Health.

He will work with beleaguered Heath Secretary Jeremy Hunt as they seek to impose a contract on Junior Doctors.

But Tracey Huffer, a nurse at a practice in Ludlow and a councillor for the town on Shropshire Council, has warned him to remember the big health problems in his own patch.

“I’d like to congratulate Philip on his appointment as Health Minister,” Tracey Huffer said.

“As an MP representing a rural area, he has a detailed knowledge of how difficult it is to maintain and improve health services outside of urban centres.

“His appointment is an opportunity to give a voice to rural areas. He has a chance to speak out loudly for isolated communities and market towns like Ludlow, whose residents often have to travel a long way to access routine and specialist health services.

“I hope that Philip will be able to use his new influence to ensure that lessons are learnt from the Future Fit debacle. It would be better still if he and his colleagues at the Department of Health gave clear guidance on the necessity for A&E and urgent care services in rural counties like ours. This will need to be backed up with money for rural health services.

“Philip’s appointment is a great opportunity for rural areas and for counties like Shropshire. He has the experience to rise to the challenge and represent the health needs of rural England. I hope he doesn’t get distracted by other Westminster priorities."

A decade ago Philip Dunne led the protest to save Ludlow Hospital but he also had to stand by and watch as changes to the NHS by the Government of which he was a member robbed Ludlow of its promised £25 million Hospital and Health Village on the Echo Park.

Health care in Ludlow and south Shropshire faces major challenges with NHS chiefs having to cope with a deficit of more than £140 million.

Beds have been cut at Ludlow Hospital and wards merged with concerns about the long term future of the Community Hospital on a site that has been earmarked for housing development and is owned by the property arm of the NHS.

There is concern about the likely scrapping of plans for Urgent Care Centres proposed for hospitals like Ludlow and a single Accident and Emergency Unit in either Shrewsbury or Telford is expected to replace the two that exist at present.

Plans to increase the number of people treated in the community rather than in hospital has resulted in serious concerns from Ludlow GP practices with a fear that they will not be able to cope with the extra workload.

Ludlow and south Shropshire also has an ageing population and increasing pressure from age related conditions such as dementia.