‘No openness, transparency or engagement’
MARCUS Warnes, accountable officer for Staffordshire Clinical and Stoke-on-trent Commissioning Groups, in his letter on Wednesday, October 17, said that ‘the CCGS have no plans to withdraw health services from the area.’
But how does Mr Warnes possibly expect such a denial to be accepted, when only two months ago the CCG made a formal application to the Staffs County Council’s Health Scrutiny Committee, for the relocation of 10 major outpatients services (so called Tier 4 services) to the UHNM in Stoke-on-trent?
The CCG was seeking the Scrutiny Committee’s acceptance that their proposal to relocate 10 important be regarded as “not substantive,” and therefore not requiring public consultation.
The CCG had submitted a “confidential” application – and took the additional step of including persuasive arguments to support their proposal.
But the CCG was well aware that any change of site from which NHS services are delivered would normally be a “substantive” change - therefore requiring consultation with the Local Authority and public consultation (set out in NHS England’s guide: “Planning, Assuring and Delivering Service Change for Patients).
Clearly therefore it was not necessary for the CCG to seek a determination that the major service change it proposes is “substantive.”
This was not a case of the CCG simply “confirming with the County Council which services will be included in the consultation” as Marcus Warnes states, but indeed a formal application for this major relocation of services.
If the CCG had succeeded in its application we can be certain all of the 10 Tier 4 services would have been transferred to the UHNM with no reference whatsoever to the Moorlands community.
It was only recently, after severe criticism in the Independent Reconfiguration Panel’s (IRP) report on the removal of the beds from Leek Moorlands Hospital without prior consultation, that the CCG reaffirmed its commitment to openness, transparency, and genuine engagement.
It was on this basis, that lessons would be learnt, that the IRP did not refer this to the Health Secretary.
Its action in this instance, falling far short of this standard, fails to meet this commitment.
The CCGS action with its Notice to the Staffordshire County Council OSC has caused much concern in our community.
It is very clear that this was an attempt to remove by stealth a substantial block of health services from the Leek Moorlands Hospital, while at the same time threatening the hospital’s viability, without drawing this to the public’s attention.
This case shows regrettably that the CCG has not maintained its commitment to openness, transparency, and genuine engagement.
It has not demonstrated it has been able to learn the lessons which led to severe criticism and reprimand by the IRP when the beds were removed without consultation.
And we note it was only on this expectation on that occasion that the IRP stopped short of referring the CCG action to the Health Secretary.