“Stakeholder event” to hear NHS commissioners’ plans for hospital cuts on 13th September

The results of the Calderdale and Greater Huddersfield public consultation on proposed hospital cuts and the transfer of hospital services into the “community” will be made public at the end of August. The Consultation Report of Findings – to be produced by NHS Midlands and Lancashire Commissioning Support Unit which is collating and analysing all survey data and feedback –  will be published on the Right Care Right Time Right Place website.

Throughout the 14 week consultation, which finished at the end of June, there has been massive public opposition to the proposal to reduce each town’s full District General Hospital to half a hospital: so that all acute and emergency services would be in Halifax, and all planned care in a small planned and urgent care clinic in Huddersfield, after knocking down HRI.

As part of a so-called “deliberation” on the consultation results, the Calderdale and Greater Huddersfield Clinical Commissioning Groups (CCGs) are holding a “stakeholder event” at Cedar Court Hotel, Ainley Top, Huddersfield, HD3 3RH on Tuesday 13th September, 9:30 until 12:00, where they have invited “stakeholders” to

“hear more about our plans for local hospital services.”

The practice of limiting discussion to so-called stakeholders gained notoriety a year ago with Save our NHS campaigners’ picket of the “engagement stakeholder event” at Shay Stadium in Halifax.

This led to the admission of a handful of campaigners, who shone a stark light on the smoke and mirrors of the proceedings.

This time around, the CCGs have invited campaign group representatives as well as patient groups, voluntary groups, partner organisations, staff-side representatives, MPs and local councillors to an event to look at the findings of the consultation. So far, these campaign groups have been invited to send representatives:

  • Calderdale and Kirklees 999 Call for the NHS
  • Calderdale 38 Degrees NHS Campaign group
  • Hands off HRI
  • Huddersfield Keep Our NHS Public

A member of Calderdale 38 Degrees NHS Campaign Group said,

“I hope they are going to listen to us, not just expect us to listen to them.”

All members of the public are welcome to send us comments about the public consultation to pass on to the CCGs at the “stakeholder event” on 13 September. You can do this in the comments box or by email.

Chrissie Parker, an active member of Friends of Huddersfield Royal Infirmary who attended and monitored many of the public consultation events, said

“It’s daft, it’s a public consultation but only certain people can get a preview. And the Joint Health Scrutiny Committee may refer to Hunt yet.”

Calderdale and Kirklees Joint Health Scrutiny Committee (JHSC) can refer the proposals to the Secretary of State for Health if they find from their own public consultation, that the CCGs’ plans are unfit for the health needs of the population.

The JHSC will consider the Consultation Report of Findings at their meeting on 7th September. The deadline for the JHSC to send the CCGs their comments in relation to the consultation is midnight on 3rdOctober, 2016.

If the JHSC doesn’t refer the proposals to the Secretary of State, both CCGs plan to hold a joint meeting on 20th October to announce their decision on the proposed hospital cuts and closures and transfer of hospital services into the “community”.

Finally – NHS Commissioners to carry out Equalities and Health Inequalities Impact Assessment

The CCGs say that

“Additionally, we will complete an Equalities and Health Inequalities Impact Assessment which will enable us to pay due regard to our Equality and Health Inequality duties.”

This Impact Assessment is due to be completed by the end of August. Better late than never. But this comes under the heading of “too little, too late”.

Calderdale & Kirklees 999 Call for the NHS lambasted the CCGs’ failure to meet their public equality duties in our response to their consultation, and we made this failure the sole focus of our submission to Calderdale & Kirklees Joint Health Scrutiny Committee public consultation meeting in July. At a public consultation drop in session we also queried  their failure to carry out a health inqualities assessment and included their failure to do so our list of 34 questions about flaws in the Consultation document – only for the CCGs to brush aside our points.

We the public needed information about the proposals’ impact on equalities and health inequalities when we were considered the proposals. It’s too late now.

But according to a report from Right Care Right Time Right Place Programme Manager, Jen Mulcahy,

“The Equalities and Health Inequalities Impact Assessment will identify any potential trends in responses [to the consultation], determining if a particular protected
characteristic group would experience the proposed changes differently, whether negatively or positively. This analysis would also support the on-going considerations of decision makers and influence any changes or mitigation introduced to minimise potential negative impacts.”
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