Asking Calderdale Councillors to support public picket of NHS bosses’ goldfish bowl engagement event this afternoon

It is to be hoped that Calderdale Councillors will support the public picket of the final “stakeholder engagement event” about controversial plans to cut acute and emergency hospital services and replace them with a “New Model of Care” in the community, based on an American private health insurance system.

These plans are known confusingly and variously as Right Care Right Time Right Place, Care Closer to Home and Calderdale/Upper Valley Vanguard.

Members of the public are picketing the NHS bosses’ event to ask invited participants not to go into the stakeholder engagement event until and unless Calderdale Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG) admits the public as well.

We feel it is wrong of the CCG to exclude the public from this important pre-consultation engagement event – particularly in the light of the absurdities, falsehoods and weaknesses in the CCG’s engagement evidence pack that Councillors on the Joint Health Scrutiny Committee (JHSC) pointed out in the most recent Calderdale & Kirklees JHSC meeting.

As well as questioning the CCG’s absurd claim that there had been no public complaints about their proposals, and pointing out the presence of people at the meeting who had protested long and loud and continue to do so, Councillors asked for more information about how the CCG had carried out “engagement” on its proposals.

Penny Woodhead, the CCG engagement officer told the Scrutiny Committee:

“In Calderdale it has been delivered by engagement champions trained to do engagement one to one conversations or focus groups, followed by completion of the questionnaire.”

Cllr Wilkinson pointed out that he’d only found out about the CCG’s engagement evidence pack the night before the Scrutiny Committee meeting, from a member of the public. He said,

“We need to see and read the Evidence Data Pack and it would’ve been useful to have read this information before this meeting. The statement that the CCG hasn’t received any complaints about its Right Care Right Time Right Place proposals over the last 5 years isn’t true.”

Matt Walsh replied:

“We haven’t had any explicit complaint about it.”

What does this look like? How much more explicit do you want?

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No information or consultation about childrens’s and maternity service changes

Cllr Andrew Marchington asked what had been done to find out what young people think.

Penny Woodhead said they haven’t got round to maternity and paediatrics, the CCG has been focusing on urgent and emergency care and Care Closer to Home. She said,

“We want to do young people’s engagements with children and young people when we have done the clinical model on paediatrics and maternity.”

Cllr Elizabeth Smaje asked why the CCG wasn’t ready with the clinical model for paediatrics and complex maternity.

The Calderdale CCG Chief Officer Matt Walsh said:

“Getting to agreement on the clinical model hasn’t been straightforward. We’ve only gained some consensus in the last two weeks or so, so we haven’t yet been ready to consider paediatrics and maternity.”

Cllr Marchington asked how the CCG was assessing issues that are points of contention.

Dr Brooks, the CCG Governing Body Chair, said

“There are national requirements for children’s urgent and emergency care that not all hospitals can provide – but we don’t want to take all children to a major children’s urgent and emergency centre, which would overwhelm them. We’ve now worked out a formula for which children go where, including to GP/community urgent care centres. The plans are being run past the Clinical Senate.”

Flawed design of engagement questionnaire

Cllr Wilkinson pointed out the absurdity of the first question in the engagement questionnaire, which asked people to say where they would like to go for treatment. This included GP, police, A&E , pharmacy and many other options. He said,

“The question’s too vague to mean anything – it depends on what’s wrong. And the ranking in question 2 suggests some are more important than others – but all could be equally important. The design is flawed.”

Matt Walsh said,

“ Question 1 was developed in consultation with engagement participants. Question 2 – I agree there are different ways of ranking importance – but this was helpful for CCGs in engaging on walk in centres. But I agree there are different ways of framing questions.”

Cllr Smaje asked,

“So does Question 1 mean its ok to go to the police if you’re poorly?”

Matt Walsh said,

“I’m not saying anything.”

Cllr Burton said,

“The question about being treated by caring and helpful staff – can’t that be assumed that this is what people want? Everyone is going to say yes.”

Matt Walsh said,

“ It’s reasonable to ask that to rank what their desiderata are in terms of importance.”

Councillor says NHS bosses need to ask questions “outside the goldfish bowl”

Clle James suggested:

“In formulating future questions, the CCG should maybe take a wider basis of opinion as a basis for the formulation – not just from people inside the goldfish bowl.”

Matt Walsh said that in future the CCG will “share” an early draft of questions with the Councils’ Scrutiny Panels and Joint Health Scrutiny Committee.


  1. Explore the nhs constitution. Q13 requires effective participation with the public, patients and carers as a statutory duty. That is why there are lawyers present on the working group which is designing the ‘model’ for participation. The duty already exists and failure is open to legal challenge. Don’t waste time protesting – lawyer up!


    • Thanks Helen. As as I understand it – and as advised by a lawyer – the NHS Constitution is effectively toothless, it is a series of pledges that are not in any way legally binding. Which working group is designing the ‘model’ for participation, and which ‘model’ is that? NHS England’s? Protesting is not a waste of time – we spoke to and handed out leaflets to about 100 people, who were mostly interested in our information and didn’t know about it until they found out from us.We also gained access to the event, where we found out a lot of useful information that will soon be the subject of a report.


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