NHS commissioners have failed their equality duties, campaigners tell Councillors

At the poorly- attended Joint Health Scrutiny Committee public consultation meeting in Halifax Town Hall today,  Calderdale and Kirklees 999 Call for the NHS campaigners asked Councillors to investigate whether the Clinical Commissioning Groups have failed their public equality duties, in their proposals to cut hospital services and replace them with largely un-evidenced community health services.

To fulfill these equality duties, the Clinical Commissioning Groups must:

  • Allow equality issues to influence their design of hospital and community health services clinical models.
  • Assess equality and health inequalities related to their proposals
  • Encourage people with protected characteristics to take part in public life, by properly informing all the groups with protected characteristics about the consultation process, and making the consultation process properly accessible to them.
  • Foster good relations by tackling prejudice and promoting understanding between
    people who share a protected characteristic and others.

The campaigners say they haven’t been able to find evidence that the Clinical Commissioning Groups have done these things.

Protected characteristics, according to the public sector equality duty, are:

  • age
  • disability
  • gender reassignment
  • pregnancy and maternity
  • race – this includes ethnic or national origins,
    colour or nationality
  • religion or belief – this includes lack of belief
  • sex
  • sexual orientation

If you are a person with one or more of these protected characteristics and you feel the Clinical Commissioning Groups have not fulfilled their public equality duties towards you, please let us know – it’s not too late to do something about this.

Campaigners presented their findings and questions to Cllr Chris Pearson and to the Co-Chair of the JHSC, Cllr Marilyn Greenwood and asked them to take the questions forward with so-called protected groups, to find out if they have been properly involved in the design of the clinical models for the proposed hospital services and community health services, and in the consultation process.

The Joint Health Scrutiny Committee has to finish its scrutiny and decide what to do, and then tell the Clinical Commissioning Groups what it’s decided.

Richard Dunne, the Kirklees Council Scrutiny Officer, said that the JHSC will probably reach its decision in mid August.

If it were to decide to refer the Clinical Commissioning Groups’ proposals to the Secretary of State for Health, the JHSC would first have to go through an arbitration process with the Clinical Commissioning Groups. If that failed, it would refer the proposals to the Secretary of State.

The JHSC Public consultation meeting suffered from the same problems as the Clinical Commissioning Groups’ consultation drop ins: it was not signposted, no one passing the Town Hall or walking round Halifax would know it was going on, it was in an out of the way building no one had any other reason to go to, and you had to be very determined and on a definite mission to enter such out of the way premises.

During the hour or so from 4pm, the three Calderdale and Kirklees 999 Call for the NHS were the only members of the public present.

 

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