AN Accident and Emergency unit used by people in Ludlow and south Shropshire is to close.

Secretary of State Matt Hancock announced the closure of the Accident and Emergency at Telford’s Princess Royal Hospital.

“Matt Hancock must know of the overwhelming public opposition to Future Fit,” said Gill George, from Ludlow, who leads the Shropshire, Telford and Wrekin Defend Our NHS Group.

“It is extraordinary to see these plans given the green light. Future Fit is a cuts and closures plan.

“Matt Hancock’s decision means worse care for all of us.

“We know that longer journeys to Accident and Emergency are associated with higher death rates. The evidence, both from the UK and internationally, shows this clearly. Future Fit will cost lives.

“For Shropshire people, Future Fit means much worse access to routine planned care, with unnecessary journeys to Telford.

“Shropshire is a predominantly rural county, with a poor road network and public transport that’s close to non-existent in many areas.

“This means people will miss appointments for the simple reason they can’t physically get there or can’t afford to get there. People in Powys will be affected by those same pressures.

Ms George also says that the moves will mean fewer jobs for health workers.

“It means 141 fewer nurses; 67 fewer therapists; fewer junior and middle grade doctors,” Ms George added.

“That’s the reality behind the rhetoric and spin. It also means even more pressure on beds – an increased shortfall of 110 beds when the bed shortage is already desperately obvious.

“We’ll probably hear a lot about the £312m ‘investment’ in local healthcare. No. The £312m is just for new hospital buildings. It’s not a gift or award; it comes with strings.

“It has to be paid for by the hospital trust in year on year costs. It’s set to cost at least £11m a year, and that means £11m less for patient care.

“In Shropshire, Telford and Wrekin, the pressure on our Accident and Emergency, on ambulances, and on emergency hospital beds is relentlessly rising.

“Taking out staff and beds, as Future Fit will do, is set to make things far, far worse. And spending £11m or more every single year on paying for those new hospital buildings will mean even more cuts”

Ms George, called for united action to fight the decision. “It is an absolute catastrophe for local people.”