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Thursday night – urgent public meeting on Ludlow Hospital ward closure on amid fears the hospital could close

There seems to be only one topic in Ludlow at the moment. Last Friday, Shropshire Community Health NHS Trust announced that the current Stretton Ward at Ludlow Hospital will close.

Since then, there has been a whirlwind of comment online and in the media. People are scared that this move presages the closure of our hospital.

It’s hard to pinpoint the truth about what’s happening. Why was no one consulted? Is the change permanent? Has the number of beds been reduced?

Is Stretton Ward actually being closed? Not according to the Community Health Trust, which says Stretton and Dinham are simply joining together. It’s all about patient safety.

The Clinical Commissioning Group – the body that provides the cash for Ludlow Hospital – seems happy with the move.

But I can speak for councillors across the Ludlow area in saying that our phones have not stopped since the community learnt of this decision on Sunday. Our email inboxes have been flooded.

Ludlow Town Council last night voted to oppose the closure of Stretton Ward. They have joined with Shropshire Council’s Local Joint Committee to host a meeting to get all parties together to find out what is happening and discuss the consequences.

Join us at that meeting. It’s going to be an open debate.

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More than 1,500 people sign petition to save Ludlow hospital ward in 24 hours

Please sign the petition to reverse the decision to close the Stretton Ward at Ludlow Hospital and share it with friends.

The shock decision to close one of two remaining wards at Ludlow hospital is reverberating around Ludlow and South Shropshire. People are angry that Stretton Ward is being closed at just one weeks’ notice without consultation. But mostly they are angry that the ward is being closed at all. It will reduce the number of beds available in Ludlow from 40 to 24, despite the hospital having 97% bed occupancy last January (and last winter was a mild winter without a major flu outbreak).

Residents quite rightly see the closure as an autocratic move by a largely unaccountable NHS trust. They are spot on in saying that this move is a bad omen for the future of Ludlow hospital.

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So who knew about the imminent closure of Stretton Ward at Ludlow Hospital? Very few it seems

Tracey Huffer, councillor for Ludlow South, has updated me on this morning’s Health and Adult Social Care Scrutiny Committee meeting at Shirehall.

None of us knew before the weekend that Ludlow’s Stretton Ward is to close at the end of this week. Tracey asked an urgent question at the meeting about what was happening and who knew about it. What she learnt was that almost no one had foreknowledge of the plans – not even the people who fund Ludlow Hospital.

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“Beginning of the end” for Ludlow Hospital as Stretton Ward is closed without consultation

Local GPs are fearing for the future of Ludlow hospital after health chiefs decided to shut Stretton Ward at seven days’ notice. This will reduce patient’s privacy, block plans to create a dementia friendly bay, and end proposals to provide blood transfusions and intravenous antibiotics in Ludlow. The GPs are also worried that the move will lead to a shortage of hospital beds next winter. They say the move is the beginning of the end for Ludlow hospital.

I think this is truly shocking news. Councillor Tracy Huffer agrees and says:

I can’t understand this decision. They have already closed Whitcliffe Ward. With the closure of Stretton, we are going to lose a lot of services and add to the inevitable bed crisis next winter.

There is a meeting of Shropshire’s Health and Adult Social Care Scrutiny Committee today [Monday]. I will be asking the Clinical Commissioning Group to explain just what on earth is going on and why this decision was made at short notice and without consultation.

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Shropshire Council meetings could be broadcast in future

In May, I was not alone in castigating Shropshire Council for actions “worthy of a totalitarian state” when it confiscated cameras from members of the public at the beginning of a council meeting. Three days after Viv Parry gave notice of a question at last Thursday’s council meeting, the rules were changed. Now Keith Barrow has said he wants council meetings to be broadcast.

He told last Thursday’s council meeting:

I think this council meeting should be videoed. I have asked officers to look at the feasibility of video – not just the council meeting but I think planning meetings as well. I think it would be good for the council and good for people as well.

I wholeheartedly agree with this. Recording and broadcasting of council and planning meetings should be instigated as soon as possible – even if it is initially just audio recordings. (Must as the House of Commons was first broadcast on audio before cameras were allowed into the chamber.)

When Shropshire Council eventually moves out of Shirehall, the new building should be equipped to broadcast all meetings held in public.

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Plans for housing revised to ‘preserve important vista’ from Linney

New designs have been drawn up for controversial plans to build two houses on the last remaining green field on the Linney, adjacent to Linney House (14/04328/FUL). The developers, McCartneys, have brought in a new architect who has drawn up radically different plans. The new layout for the houses now partially preserves the view from the Linney towards the meadows of the Teme and across to Mortimer Forest.

The houses have been turned around. They no longer face the Linney, they face each other. The gap between them has been widened as a result opening up more of a vista westwards. The houses are larger, but their design is much improved.

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Calls for Ringway to be sacked by Shropshire Council as road repairs fail

At last Thursday’s council meeting, highways boss Simon Jones admitted that the performance of the council’s road contractors is not up to scratch. He has only just taken over the transport portfolio, which he held a few years back. He said that dealing with Ringway was like dealing with a company in the first year of the contract, not its third year. He also said that spending £1.1 million on improving the Craven Arms highways depot, which is shared between Shropshire Council and Ringway, was part of the contract with Ringway, though he didn’t sound enthusiastic about the project.

A couple of weeks ago, Ringway made its third attempt at resurfacing Lower Corve Street. The previous two operations were carried out in October – what sort of company conducts a non-urgent resurfacing in October? Tarmac operations need to conducted in warm weather without excessive rain. Even I know that.

Councillor Heather Kidd has now called for Ringway to be sacked. I agree with that. It is not rocket science to resurface roads correctly but Ringway seems to find even the basics difficult.

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