PLANS for the future of acute health care for people living in Ludlow and south Shropshire have been approved.

They will mean major changes for people living in the Ludlow area who need treatment at a major hospital.

The board of directors at the Shrewsbury and Telford Hospital NHS Trust has reaffirmed its commitment to the reconfiguration of the Royal Shrewsbury and Princess Royal hospitals.

At a meeting of the board, members said it was vital plans moved forward as quickly as possible.

“Through the hard work of people across the trust and in the wider health and care community, we have secured a commitment of £312 million in funding from the Government to develop both hospital sites to deliver state-of-the-art facilities where staff will be proud to work and in which patients will choose to be treated,” said Ben Reid, chairman of the NHS trust.

“The money makes up the largest proportion of a £760 million investment from the Government – the single biggest capital injection of its kind in the NHS for over a decade.

“As a board, we remain fully committed to this plan. We are very clear that the move to separate planned and emergency care is the best thing to do, both for our patients and for our staff.

“Our emergency care workforce remains fragile and it is only by bringing all specialists together in one place that we can provide the safest, quickest and most dignified care to patients when they need it.

“Equally, having a centre for planned care will ensure far fewer operations are cancelled because of the pressure of emergency attendances and admissions, which are rising year-on-year.”

The decision still has to be approved by an independent NHS panel that has been visiting the trust.

Great controversy has surrounded the work of the trust and there has been strong criticism from the Shropshire Defend our NHS Group, which is led by Gill George from Ludlow.

Among the most contentious issues have been the future location of the accident and emergency unit with the intention of having a single site in Shrewsbury.

There has also been concern and anger at the future of maternity

services that involve the closure of the midwife-led unit in Ludlow for births although other maternity related services will remain in the town.

But women will either give birth in Telford or at home if they choose and are considered low risk and suitable for a home birth.