We fear lives will be lost if Telford A&E shuts - Wolverhampton councillors
Patients will die if Wolverhampton's New Cross Hospital is faced with an influx of admissions if a neighbouring emergency department shuts overnight, councillors have warned.
Emergency plans are being drawn up to ensure staff at the city hospital can cope with a surge in demand when the Princess Royal Hospital's accident and emergency department in Telford closes next month.
But Wolverhampton Labour councillors Sandra Samuels and Hazel Malcolm have claimed lives will be lost if the planned temporary closure goes ahead.
Today the planned closure from the start of December is in doubt amid claims by Telford & Wrekin leader Councillor Shaun Davies that the town’s fight against the move had been won.
Wolverhampton councillors supported a motion calling on Health Secretary Matt Hancock to intervene and put a stop to the night-time closure.
Councillor Samuels, who is cabinet member for adult services and represents the Ettingshall ward, said: "I have been a nurse for 40 years and there can be no excuse to close and A&E department. Closing Telford will mean deaths - patients will die."
A motion expressing the council's 'grave concern' over the proposed closure was moved by Councillor Malcolm during Wednesday's full council meeting.
She blamed 'poor planning' and a 'lack of investment' in the NHS for Shrewsbury and Telford Hospital NHS Trust's (SaTH) controversial decision, made due to staff shortages.
The cabinet member for public health and wellbeing also urged all councillors to support an online petition backed by more than 32,000 supporters calling on the government to step in and launch a rescue plan to halt the 'avoidable' closure.
Councillor Malcolm added: "We all know it's not going to be temporary. These additional demands are being placed on Wolverhampton's A&E services without any additional resources, at a time when we are expecting winter pressures.
"I'm particularly concerned about the impact it's going to have on high risk groups. It's going to impact on the wider community in Wolverhampton.
"We all use the NHS and everyone, at some point, has been to A&E. Lives will be lost if we don't intervene. It is the responsibility of the secretary of state to ensure standards are maintained. It's a farce."
Conservative Councillor Simon Bennett, who represents the Merry Hill ward, tabled an amended motion urging SaTH to 'urgently reconsider its plans', claiming the Health Secretary could not legally step in.
But his comments were met with backlash from opposition councillors, including council leader Roger Lawrence who said he had 'no confidence' the trust would take action to solve the issue.
He added: "We want to see some action and that has to come from government and has to come now."
SaTH’s board voted unanimously in favour of the night-time closure in September.
It will mean the emergency department will close between 8pm and 8am, a move expected to last at least six months.
An extra three ambulances will be needed a night to cope with the increased demand when the closure of the emergency department is brought in.
David Loughton, chief executive of the Royal Wolverhampton NHS Trust, said: “I do not wish to get into any political argument.
“We are working with SaTH, the West Midlands Ambulance Service NHS Foundation Trust, and the surrounding organisations on a comprehensive plan before an ambulance divert is implemented.
“We have managed this situation before following Stafford County Hospital’s A&E overnight closure.”