CAMPAIGNERS have “missed the point” over controversial consultation, according to a health chief.

Dr Julian Povey, chairman of the Shropshire Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG), spoke out after strong criticisms from the Shropshire Defend Our NHS group.

He said: “What Defend Our NHS’ campaign is about is austerity is rubbish, austerity has resulted in lower than long term average increase in funding to NHS care and that there is a general diminution of NHS services in terms of workforce and the amount of money that’s spent on it.

“Now that’s their view and that’s fine and I would agree that more money needs to be spent on the NHS and we could do with more workforce but that’s not what the consultation is about."

The consultation proposes a preferred option of the Royal Shrewsbury Hospital becoming an emergency care site and the Princess Royal Hospital in Telford becoming a planned care site. There is also a second option to make the Princess Royal Hospital an Emergency Care site and the Royal Shrewsbury Hospital a planned care site.

Dr Povey said that the group wanted to couch the consultation in terms of “rejecting both options because there’s not enough money and workforce”.

“I’m saying, if we just stop it and say to the government ‘We’re going to write you a letter and say we want more money, how does that help the workforce? How does that help the days when there’s not enough A&E doctors? ," he added

“They’re fine to campaign, I’m very happy that they campaign but in reality our consultation isn’t about the funding of the NHS. It’s about how do we spent this £312million that we have been allocated and how do we get the best value for services for all the residents that we need to look after.

“I think they’re looking at wider issues. It’s up to them how they do it, but that’s not what the consultation is about. We saying we’ve been given this money, and this is how we’re going to spend it.

“What we know is that there isn’t more than that, and I said at the local LJC meeting the other day if someone said that there’s a billion pounds and that will cover infrastructure costs, land costs and building costs, what’s the best option. Well it isn’t what we’re proposing now.

“With a billion pounds the best option is a new build hospital somewhere just to the east of Shrewsbury, but we haven’t got a billion pounds, we’ve got £312m and the best way to spend that money is to actually invest it in the current building we’ve got and build new buildings to provide sustainable services moving forward.

“I think they’re always going to campaign about what they want to campaign about, that’s fine, but I think that’s slightly missing the point.

“If there is something we’ve missed and they’re saying within that money you can do something much better, then they need to provide that evidence and we’ll look at it and decide whether that’s right.

“But a lot of people have spent a lot of time looking at lots of different models and they’ve all gradually been whittled down to this preferred option of the emergency centre in Shrewsbury and the planned care centre in Telford.”