North and South Shropshire groups join to send a Letter to Secretary of State Steve Barclay

On the morning of 27th October, there were 23 ambulances allocated to Shropshire. 22 of them were stuck in queues outside our A&Es at the Royal Shrewsbury Hospital and Telford’s Princess Royal Hospital. This is a system in ‘gridlock’ – and patients are being seriously harmed or are dying as a direct result.

Three local campaigns – Return Ambulances to Oswestry, Shropshire Needs Ambulances and Shropshire, Telford and Wrekin Defend Our NHS – have written today to Steve Barclay, Secretary of State. We are appealing for change.

Darren Childs, speaking for the Shropshire Needs Ambulances campaign, said, “We welcome the latest initiative taken by West Midlands Ambulance Service for patients to be ‘cohorted’ – to be cared for by paramedics working in a designated space within the hospital, to enable other paramedics to return to responding to emergency calls.

“Let’s be clear, though. This is about mitigation, not finding a solution to the crisis. Gill George, Chair of Shropshire, Telford and Wrekin Defend Our NHS, said ‘This is a stopgap measure. By itself, it doesn’t create extra space in overcrowded A&Es, it doesn’t magic into existence the hospital beds that don’t exist, and it doesn’t solve the catastrophic shortfall in social care that stops patients being discharged when they’re medically fit to go. And of course, paramedics do a tremendous job – but can’t just step into the shoes of Emergency Medicine Consultants.’

“We have a new Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, Steve Barclay. This is a critical point for our NHS. The current trajectory is that the NHS faces potential destruction as a consequence of long-term underfunding and a long-term lack of workforce planning. ‘Business as usual’ will be disastrous for the NHS.

“The real change we need to see is a reversal of the chronic underfunding and understaffing that have caused so much harm. There is also a ‘quick fix’ solution that can make a real difference in the here and now. We need targeted funding from central government to support hospital discharge. If we can get patients out of hospital when they’re ready, that frees up space on the wards, patients can move through A&E faster, and paramedics can hand over patients and get back to responding to emergency calls. The money was there – but it was stopped on 31st March. Come on, Mr Barclay. Let’s get some of that funding back into Shropshire and save lives in our communities. We need to see our MPs get behind this call too.”

And a final word from Oswestry resident and Return Ambulances to Oswestry and Shropshire Needs Ambulances supporter Sian Tasker, who presented our case and gathered support from so many town and parish councillors about the need for additional social care funding. Sian commented, ‘The sooner we appreciate how important our adult social care system is to ease the emergency care crisis, and give it proper funding, the more lives will be saved’.

A copy of the letter below sent to Secretary of State Steve Barclay and the ‘Statement’ referred to in the letter.

The Rt Hon Steve Barclay MP

Secretary of State for Health and Social Care

House of Commons



Dear Mr Barclay,

We are writing to urge you to lobby the Chancellor for a reinstatement of the social care levy increase in National Insurance in order to release the gridlock in the emergency healthcare system and save lives.

We are part of ‘Shropshire Needs Ambulances’, a campaign group in Shropsire formed after West Midlands Ambulance Service (WMAS) closed all rural ambulance stations.  During our attempt to prevent this the stories we heard about people’s experiences in Shropshire’s wider emergency healthcare system were harrowing.  It became very clear that there is an urgent need to release the log-jam in the NHS ‘system’ to ensure a patient’s journey into, through and finally out of the NHS is timely, safe and efficient.

During our research into Shropshire’s emergency healthcare system, we learned some disquieting statistics:

  • 38 people died waiting for ambulances Mar-May 2022 in the WMAS region
  • RSH (Royal Shrewsbury Hospital) was the 3rd worst for handover delays in the country this summer.
  • NHS England considers 2.5 beds per 1000 too low. In Shropshire it is 1.8
  • SATH reports between 130 and 150 medically fit patients unable to be discharged daily (nationally it is 40% according to a CQC report published this month) due to unavailability of social care packages

Our strong view is that, although the entire emergency healthcare system is in crisis, there is an urgent priority: investment in adult social care to enable safe and timely hospital discharge.

Our campaign group spoke to NHS professionals and patients, and we wrote a statement entitled Our NHS is in Crisis.  Our statement calls for urgent additional investment in social care or other community-based provision to support hospital discharge in Shropshire, Telford and Wrekin.  The statement has been circulated locally to seek a consensus behind this position.  In particular we have sought and received support from unitary authority councillors and many town and parish councils.  Currently the attached statement is supported by:

Helen Morgan, MP for North Shropshire

Darren Childs, on behalf of Shropshire Needs Ambulances (South)

Sian Tasker, on behalf of Shropshire Needs Ambulances (North)

Gill George, retired health worker, for Shropshire, Telford and Wrekin Defend Our NHS

Dr Richard Fitzgerald MB FRCR FFR RCSI, Former Vice President Royal College of Radiologists

Councillor Andy Burford, Cabinet Member for Adult Social Care and Health Integration,

Shropshire and Telford Trades Council


Councillor Julia Evans, former A&E nurse

Councillor Tracey Huffer, health worker

Councillor Kate Halliday

Councillor Heather Kidd

Councillor Julia Buckley

Councillor Andy Boddington

Councillor Hilary Luff

Councillor Duncan Kerr

Councillor Julian Dean

Councillor David Vasmer

Councillor Mike Isherwood

Councillor Geoff Elner

Councillor Steve Davenport

Councillor Roger Evans

Councillor Jessica Laurie

Councillor Diane Lyle


Telford and Wrekin Council: Full Council Support

Oswestry Rural Parish Council:  Full Council Support

Cockshutt-cum-Petton Parish Council:  Full Council Support

St Martin’s Parish Council:  Full Council Support

Ellesmere Rural Parish Council:  Full Council Support

Whittington Parish Council:  Full Council Support

Loppington Parish Council:  Full Council Support

Welshampton Parish Council: Full Council Support

Weston Rhyn Parish Council:  Full Council Support


David Chantler, OBE, former Chief Probation Officer, West Mercia

Dr Tom Underwood, GP

Izzy Cullis, Marysville Medical Practice

Dr Hannah Kelly, GP

Dr Paul Myres, (ret’d GP)



Councillor Jay Moore, Mayor

Councillor Olly Rose, Deputy Mayor

Councillor Jess Michie

Councillor Rosie Radford

Councillor Frank Davis

Councillor Jonathan Upton

Councillor Les Maguire

Councillor Sam Chadwick

Councillor Stephen Froggatt

Councillor Georgia Stackhouse

Councillor Gemma Cassin

Councillor Josh Cockburn

Councillor Frank Davis

Councillor Sian Wade-Kerr


Councillor Anne Wignall, Lady Mayoress

Councillor Graham Hutchinson, Deputy Mayor

Councillor Mark Hancock

Councillor John Howard

Councillor Joan Mowl


Sue Campbell

Marilyn Gaunt

Ally Hiles

Karen Hardacre

Jai Wood

Jayne Holbrook

Nick Holbrook

Clare Robinson

Dr Richard Laishley MB BS MD FRCA, retired Consultant Anaesthetist

Dr Abina O’Callaghan, retired Consultant in Pain Medicine

Kayleigh Griffiths, Maternity campaigner

Councillor Gemma Offland, NHS nurse

The crisis in the emergency healthcare system is nationwide but the support locally from councillors and across the political spectrum has been striking.  Surely this strong support would be replicated nationally.  Put simply investment in social care to enable hospital discharge is the right thing to do.

Of course, your predecessor briefly in post, announced a small amount of additional funding (£500m).  This is welcome but not enough.  It comes nowhere near the almost £3bn ring-fenced funding made available in 2021/2022 through the national discharge fund.

We believe the allocation of ring-fenced funding to enable safe and timely hospital discharge is the nearest thing we have to a ‘quick fix’ for our broken system.  We plead with you to allocate additional funding to Shropshire, Telford and Wrekin for social care or community services to support hospital discharge.  This, more than any other intervention will break the gridlock restore ‘flow’ through the health and care system and save lives in our county.

We urge you to lobby the Chancellor to urgently address this funding shortfall, locally and nationally.  People are dying before their time.

With kind regards from,

Sian Tasker: Shropshire Needs Ambulances (North)

Darren Childs: Ludlow Town Councillor, Shropshire Needs Ambulances (South)

Gill George: Chair, Defend our NHS

An addendum: As we finalised this letter today, there are 23 ambulances allocated by WMAS to Shropshire.  Of these, 22 are queueing outside the A&Es at Shrewsbury and Telford, unable to hand over their patients. This by itself illustrates the extent of Shropshire’s gridlock.  There is a daily crisis here and it is not being recognised.