SPE­CIAL RE­PORT: Lord Mawhin­ney’s con­cerns over shake-up Health chiefs ‘bul­lied’ into boards merger

The Peterborough Evening Telegraph - - News - By ADAM UREN adam.uren@pe­ter­bor­oughto­day.co.uk

HEALTH chiefs in Peter­bor­ough have been ‘bul­lied and in­tim­i­dated’ into quit­ting to pave the way for a shake-up of med­i­cal care in the city.

The dra­matic claim was made by Lord Brian Mawhin­ney of Peter­bor­ough who says city health bosses are be­ing forced out to make way for a new su­per-health agency, which does not have any le­gal right to ex­ist.

That agency will in­volve merg­ing or “clus­ter­ing” the pri­mary care trust NHS Peter­bor­ough, which buys the me­dial ser­vices from hos­pi­tal to GP care that oper­ate in Peter­bor­ough, with NHS Cam­bridgeshire.

Lord Mawhin­ney is con­cerned the new or­gan­i­sa­tion will be dom­i­nated by health chiefs from out­side Peter­bor­ough and that care in the city could suf­fer.

Lord Mawhin­ney told the House of Lords that those di­rec­tors who ob­jected to the merger were given no choice but to ac­cept the changes and re­sign.

He said those who re­fused were warned they would face two years in the health wilder­ness un­der rules that al­low any non-ex­ec­u­tive whose be­hav­iour is not seen as “con­ducive to the good man­age­ment of the PCT”, to be forced to re­sign and banned from tak­ing up a sim­i­lar role for two years.

He said the national NHS and the Strate­gic Health Au­thor­ity (SHA) NHS Mid­lands and East have pushed for­ward with plans to “clus­ter” the two pri­mary care trusts.

The move has al­ready seen the level of Peter­bor­ough rep­re­sen­ta­tion fall from the six non-ex­ec­u­tive di­rec­tors who were on the NHS Peter­bor­ough board, to just two who are on the new clus­tered board.

It has also led to former NHS Peter­bor­ough chair­man Derek Har­ris re­sign­ing in protest.

Lord Mawhin­ney told the House of Lords: “PCTS are statu­tory, no de­bate; clus­ters are not, no de­bate.

“Yet in prac­tice PCTS have been re­moved, abol­ished, taken down or what­ever phrase­ol­ogy no­ble Lords wish to use, to be re­placed by clus­ter­ing.

“What has hap­pened is that pub­lic ser­vants who worked for pri­mary care trusts were in­tim­i­dated and bul­lied into get­ting out of the way so that a sys­tem which does not have a le­gal ba­sis could pro­ceed.”

“It is no won­der that good up­stand­ing peo­ple feel in­tim­i­dated and bul­lied into giv­ing up the ser­vice that they have been mak­ing, be­cause they are be­ing threat­ened with two years of ex­clu­sion by the NHS.”

Non-ex­ec­u­tive di­rec­tors are taken onto PCT boards to rep­re­sent the views of their lo­cal com­mu­ni­ties.

They get an ex­tra vote on board de­ci­sions com­pared to ex­ec­u­tive di­rec­tors, who are salar­ied staff on the PCT, to en­sure the board works in the best in­ter­ests of its peo­ple.

Lord Mawhin­ney was spoke in the Lords af­ter he put for­ward an amend­ment to the Govern­ment’s Health and So­cial Care Bill, which paves the way for the hand over of pri­mary care to GPS, which states that all clus­tered PCTS should be re-in­stated to their pre­vi­ous form.

Earl Howe, the Par­lia­men­tary Un­der-sec­re­tary of State for the Depart­ment of Health, said: “There is no de­sire to force non-ex­ec­u­tives to re­sign. These are not non-exec di­rec­tors who in some way have mis­be­haved. How­ever, it is nec­es­sary in the in­ter­ests of the NHS that we ra­tio­nalise the sys­tem.

“The pro­posal put be­fore non-ex­ec­u­tive was that, in the in­ter­ests of the health ser­vice, they should con­sider their po­si­tions. That is not be­cause they have done any­thing wrong but be­cause of the tran­si­tion we find our­selves in.”

An NHS Mid­lands and East spokesman said: “This (clus­ter­ing) is to en­sure the NHS achieves the nec­es­sary man­age­ment ef­fi­cien­cies, re­duces run­ning costs and re­tains re­silience within PCTS, en­abling them to sup­port the tran­si­tion process ef­fec­tively.

“All mem­bers of the NHS Peter­bor­ough board, in­clud­ing the chair, were given the op­por­tu­nity to ap­ply for po­si­tions on the new sin­gle clus­ter board.

“NHS Cam­bridgeshire and NHS Peter­bor­ough re­mains fo­cused on pro­vid­ing high qual­ity and safe health care ser­vices that meet the spe­cific needs of peo­ple liv­ing in both ar­eas.”

Af­ter­wards, Mr Har­ris said he agreed with Lord Mawhin­ney’s com­ments that the board was “bul­lied and in­tim­i­dated” into ap­prov­ing the clus­tered board, and also echoed Lord Mawhin­ney’s com­plaints about be­ing “pa­tro­n­ised” by health chiefs at NHS Mid­lands and East. Mr Har­ris and his board de- cided to ap­prove the clus­ter­ing as they felt they were stuck “be­tween a rock and a hard place” and were left with lit­tle choice but to ac­cept the change, or en­ter into a coun­ter­pro­duc­tive fight with the SHA.

He said: “Non-ex­ec­u­tive di­rec­tors are given one ex­tra vote to en­sure the PCT acts in the in­ter­ests of lo­cal peo­ple, but when those same di­rec­tors unan­i­mously agree that what is be­ing pro­posed is wrong, they get threat­ened ef­fec­tively with be­ing pushed out of of­fice for two years.

“One of my non-ex­ec­u­tive di­rec­tors got a let­ter say­ing ex­actly that. We ended up tak­ing the view that we would end up get­ting in a bun fight with the SHA, which we didn’t think was in the best in­ter­ests of the lo­cal peo­ple. It’s dis­grace­ful.

“I agree with Lord Mawhin­ney about the over­bear­ing at­ti­tude of NHS Mid­lands and East. It is an ar­ro­gant and bul­ly­ing at­ti­tude.”

ALARM: Lord Brian Mawhin­ney claims health bosses in Peter­bor­ough are be­ing “bul­lied” into quit­ting.

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