‘No open­ness, trans­parency or en­gage­ment’

Leek Post & Times - - LETTERS TO THE EDITOR - Chris Tay­lor Leek

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.

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