Scrutiny Committee Chair & Officer meeting on hospital cuts secret Consultation Documents after public “overwhelms” Scrutiny inboxes

The hospital cuts vanishing Consultation Documents saga hurtles on.

Richard Dunne, Kirklees Scrutiny Officer, said that his email inbox was “overwhelming” when he logged on this morning.

It was full of messages from the public telling the Joint Health Scrutiny Committee (JHSC) to meet in public to properly scrutinise the Clinical Commissioning Groups’(CCGs’) hospital cuts Consultation Document.

This follows the dodgy escapades of the past week, that started with the  29th January JHSC meeting where the Chair, Cllr Elizabeth Smaje, allowed the meeting to go ahead even though the CCGs didn’t bother to deliver the draft consultation document until 30 minutes before the meeting, so Councillors hadn’t had time to read it before scrutinising it. And then later in the meeting it transpired that it wasn’t even the draft consultation document anyway – just a list of draft consultation questions.

So no public scrutiny of the contentious hospital cuts Consultation Document.

Instead, the Joint Health Scrutiny Committee Chair said the Clinical Commissioning Groups could send JHSC Councillors and Scrutiny Officers the consultation document when they’d written it, which the CCGs said would be around 3rd Feb.

On 4th Feb the CCGs emailed the JHSC members and scrutiny officers a 60 page consultation document asking for Councillors’ comments by 5th Feb, as they intended to sign off the Consultation Document that day.

Cue righteous public uproar.

And a full email inbox for the Scrutiny Officer and JHSC Councillor members.

Around 1pm today, Monday 8th February, Richard Dunne was due to meet the JHSC Chair, Cllr Elizabeth Smaje, to clarify the JHSC stance on the Consultation Document, and the next steps.

On 4th Feb, Richard Dunne had asked the CCGs for an extension to their 5th Feb deadline for comments. When I asked him today if the CCGs had agreed to an extension, he said he was unclear about the CCGs intentions and the JHSC would liaise with the CCGs about what their intentions are.

So that’s a “No” then.

Mr Dunne said:

“Cllr Smaje is looking to have a public debate and discussion of the Consultation Document.”

When I asked if that means a public formal JHSC meeting to scrutinise them, he said,

“Yes, but at this stage nothing has been agreed.”

He said they will ask the CCGs what their plans are and then will have to talk with the Calderdale Scrutiny Chair, Cllr Malcolm James – although he didn’t know if Cllr James was “around”.

Mr Dunne said that after Cllr Smaje and Cllr James had talked, he would respond to the public’s emails. either later today or tomorrow.

Mr Dunne said:

“I am not clear what process the CCGs are following internally. The JHSC perspective is that we are keen to ensure genuine feedback and comment from the JHSC on the Consultation materials.”

The public has a chance to ask what process the CCGs are following internally, at Greater Greater Huddersfield  and Calderdale Council CCGs meetings this week.

Greater Huddersfield CCG meeting

The Greater Huddersfield CCG meeting is 3pm on Weds 10th February at the Textile Centre of Excellence, Red Doles Lane, Huddersfield HD2 1YF

Calderdale CCG Meeting

The Calderdale CCG meeting is on Thursday 11th February from 2.00 – 5:00 pm at  The Shay Stadium, Banqueting Suite, Shaw Hill, Halifax HX1 2YS- Info here

If you want to ask questions, you need to email them by 5pm on Tuesday 9th February 2016 to

Remember they will only answer questions relating to agenda items.

There are 2 Calderdale CCG Governing Body agenda items relating to the proposed hospital cuts Consultation Document:

item 7 Chief Officer’s Report
item 8 Right Care Right Time Right Place Progress Report

The Chief Officer’s Report announces that the Governing Body’s duty regarding the Consultation is to respond to the public’s views:

“by flexing our proposals where we are able to.”

In other words they’re not going to take any notice of what comes out of the consultation except where it suits their purposes.

At the 29 January Joint Health Scrutiny Committee Matt Walsh also talked about “flexing” details of the development on both hospital sites, in response to the consultation. He said:

“Development will be required on both hospital sites. In terms of detail, we need to consult on the model and be prepared to flex and change in response to the consultation and then reflect on what that means for the estate and discuss this with the Treasury and we won’t have that info until out the other side of consultation.”

Putting 2 & 2 together suggests that the bit of their proposal they’re prepared to “flex” in response to the consultation is details of the hospital developments on both sites.

Doesn’t that amount to predetermination?

And never mind their refusal to consult on all available options – which recently lost Lambeth Council a legal challenge to one of their public consultations.

A  member of N. Kirklees Support the NHS commented:

Yes, ‘flex’ is the active word. North Kirklees CCG were adamant that they had listened to the campaigners and put in more services at Dewsbury (outpatients and day surgery) than they would have if people hadn’t made a fuss. Sop.

Mid Yorks Hospital Trust only got £20m for Dewsbury District Hospital’s refurbishment plus new a 6 bed midwife led ward! The hospital as a whole, will have less floor space and will be cheaper to run. I said a the time it is public money being invested in premises which will be then sold off or run by Spire who has a clinic on the Dewsbury site!.


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