Consultation control freakery from hospital cuts Commissioners

On Friday 26 Feb, the Greater Huddersfield and Calderdale Clinical Commissioning Groups announced that the public consultation on the hospital services cuts and proposed A&E closure would start on 15 March.

Where are the consultation materials and questions?

Many annoyed members of the public have been phoning and emailing the Clinical Commissioning Groups this morning to ask that question. Because the consultation materials are nowhere on the Right Care Right Time Right Place website.

The Clinical Commissioning Groups have been replying that they can’t publish the consultation materials and questions before 15 March, because that would mean starting the consultation before the launch date.

I don’t know about you, but to me consultation starts when the Clinical Commissioning Groups start asking people what they think about the proposed hospital cuts and A&E closure.

Letting us read the consultation materials and think about the consultation questions is not starting the consultation.

To stand a chance of getting sensible, informed answers, they should be giving the public time to get our heads round what they’re telling us about their proposals, and the questions they’re asking us.

The public is rightly suspicious of the Clinical Commissioning Groups for their spin, misinformation and disrespect they’ve consistently shown the public over the last two years, since the Right Care Right Tim Right Place proposals were first made public.

We have no reason to trust the Clinical Commissioning Groups. For example, in their Engagement Review last August, Calderdale Clinical Commissioning Group were daft enough to say to the Calderdale Council Adults Health and Social Care Scrutiny Panel that there had been no public opposition to their proposals.

To expose this as a falsehood, Cllr Adam Wilkinson had only to point to us Save our A&Es campaigners and state the obvious: that there were people in the room who had been opposing the hospital cuts proposals for a long time.

That didn’t stop the Clinical Commissioning Groups repeating the same ridiculous claim at the Stakeholder Engagement Event later in August 2015. When challenged, the Clinical Commissioning Group tried to get out of it by saying they had no “proposals” – only “models”.

Anyone who messes with language and people’s heads like that is not to be trusted an inch.

Withholding the consultation materials and questionnaire until the 15th March is just another examples of the Clinical Commissioning Groups’ control freakery.

Rather than let us do our homework and come as well informed citizens to their consultation events and questionnaires, they prefer to keep us in the dark.

We’ve been telling them for two years, we’re citizens not mushrooms, so don’t keep us in the dark and feed us s**t.

It wouldn’t risk “starting consultation early” if they put on their Right Care Right Time Right Place “useful documents” webpage, their document that tabulates the Joint Health Scrutiny Committee Councillors’ written responses to the Consultation Document, and also gives the Clinical Commissioning Groups’ responses to the Councillors’ comments.

At the 22nd Feb Joint Health Scrutiny Committee meeting, Cllr Adam Wilkinson stated that Councillors had already sent their written comments on the Consultation Document to the Clinical Commissioning Groups, and asked for them to be made public.

(This kind of begs the question of whether the 22nd Feb JHSC meeting was just to appease the public, since the Councillors had already done their “scrutiny” in written comments.)

Be that as it may, Matt Walsh, the Chief Officer of Calderdale Clinical Commissioning Group, said they would let the Joint Health Scrutiny Committee have the Clinical Commissioning Groups’ document that tabulates Councillors’ written comments they sent about the Consultation Document, together with the Clinical Commissioning Groups’ responses.

Cllr Elizabeth Smaje, Joint Health Scrutiny Committee Chair, said that the Joint Health Scrutiny Committee would make available to the public the written comments that they made.

So there is no logical reason for the Clinical Commissioning Groups not to make public this document – that gives their responses to the Joint Health Scrutiny Committee Councillors’ written responses to the Consultation Document. That would already tell us quite a lot about what the Consultation Documents are likely to say and the questions they’re likely to ask.

If you want to ask the Clinical Commissioning Groups about the Consultation – or anything else – here is how to contact them:

Greater Huddersfield CCG: 01484 464000

Calderdale CCG: 01422 307400

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