LUDLOW is set to continue to lose out because of what campaigners say is an underfunded health service in south Shropshire.

“Health bosses have a vision for our future: one of cuts and rationing,” claims Gill George of the Defend our NHS in Shropshire group.

“They reckon Shropshire is spending £41.3 million too much on our healthcare this year alone,” she said.

“We’ve lost a lot already. Shropdoc’s in tatters. The ambulance service is creaking. It’s harder to get hip and knee replacements. Health bosses have clamped down on hospital referrals for dermatology, ophthalmology, orthopaedic problems and pain management. They want the permanent closure of our Midwife-Led Unit here in Ludlow.

“They also support the extraordinarily daft ‘Future Fit’: a cuts plan that would see Telford lives at risk from Accident and Emergency closure and Shropshire people forced to travel to Telford for routine care.”

Ms George says that it is not the need of patients that determined priorities but spending constraints.

“The priority is cutting costs,” she added.

“How many of us in Ludlow really believe that the NHS is spending £41.3 million more than it needs to on Shropshire people?

“As services crumble, it’s a nonsensical notion.

“The reality is that Shropshire’s NHS is grotesquely underfunded. Our county has a relatively elderly population and is largely rural.

“Older people often have greater health needs; no surprises there. And in rural areas, costs are higher. A district nurse in south Shropshire spends more time travelling between appointments than a district nurse in Birmingham; an X-ray machine in Ludlow is less ‘efficient’ than one in Manchester.

“Basic NHS care costs a bit more here – but NHS England won’t put the money in.

“We need proper funding for our NHS. Not the ‘funny money’ double counting smoke and mirrors’ games that we’re used to from politicians.”