The leader of Shropshire Council has welcomed a decision to press ahead with reforms to the NHS in Shropshire.

An outline business case for the Shrewsbury and Telford Hospitals Transformation Programme, formerly known as Future Fit, which plans to merge accident and emergency services in the county into one site at a redeveloped Royal Shrewsbury Hospital, was given the green light yesterday.

The approval of the scheme by the Department of Health and Social Care, NHS England and the Treasury means the Shrewsbury and Telford Hospital Trust can now press ahead with enabling works ahead of the preparation of a full business case for funding, the final stage in the reorganisation progress.

Councillor Lezley Picton, Shropshire Council leader said the move is an important step forwards for much-needed investment in Shropshire’s health care system, which has been "under intense pressure"

“The changes to our two main hospitals will play a vital part of helping to address the longer-term challenges we face and must tackle to ensure we can together continue to meet the growing health and social care needs of the people of Shropshire," she said.

Plans to progress the scheme were on hold after Telford and Wrekin leader Shaun Davies wrote to the Health Secretary in March 2023 asking for the case to be referred to an independent body – but the report delivered by the Independent Reconfiguration Panel recommended that the county’s hospital reorganisation should press ahead.

The transformation programme aims to reorganise Shropshire’s main two hospitals, with accident and emergency services combined at a redeveloped Royal Shrewsbury Hospital. Telford’s Princess Royal Hospital would retain an ‘urgent care centre’ but would be used primarily for planned care.

Dr Ed Rysdale, Clinical Lead for the Hospitals Transformation Programme, said: “This new model of care is designed, led and supported by clinicians, and will see patients benefit from fewer cancellations and delays for planned procedures. Emergency care will be more effective and streamlined, with fewer ambulance handover delays, and will be delivered from a dedicated, state-of-the-art Emergency Department.

“We will continue to engage and work closely with our local communities, patients and colleagues every step of this journey to improve the experience for all our communities.”