The letter says that the Council Leaders are
“unable to endorse the content of the West Yorkshire and Harrogate-wide STP as, while the high level outcomes of the plan have been discussed with various officers of our councils, the submission has not yet been to any formal Council forums or endorsed in any of our planning processes.”
“[W]e ask for a commitment from NHS England to publish promptly the full STP. Our experience suggests that the most effective change comes when all parties – particularly our communities and all local politicians – have full disclosure of the challenges and options.”
This seems both spineless and disingenuous, since the Councils had the power – but didn’t use it – to scrutinise the Sustainability and Transformation Plans in scrutiny committees.
They could also have refused to sign off “locality” Sustainability and Transformation Plans through the Health and Wellbeing Boards, on the entirely reasonable grounds that they needed to know what was in the wider “Footprint” West Yorkshire Sustainability and Transformation Plan before rubber stamping the smidgen of it that the Clinical Commissioning Group had presented to them for their area.
In Calderdale, campaigners have done their darnedest to get Councillors on the Health and Wellbeing Board to do their homework on the Sustainability and Transformation Plan proposals that they were being asked to review, and to stop secret meetings with Calderdale Clinical Commissioning Group about the Sustainability and Transformation Plan – without success.
Far from providing “full disclosure” in response to public questions about the Sustainability and Transformation Plan, Cllr Tim Swift (Calderdale Council Leader and Chair of Calderdale Health and Wellbeing Board) tweeted Rob Webster the West Yorkshire and Harrogate STP Leader, saying he was getting “some local flak” about the STP.
And far from seeking “full disclosure” by asking questions and properly informing himself about Sustainability and Transformation Plan documents presented to the Health and Wellbeing Board, Cllr Tim Swift was unable or unwilling to explain to the public the meaning of whole aspects of the documents. As chair he surely has the duty to understand the documents that come to the Health and Wellbeing Board for discussion and decisions. So why doesn’t he fulfill that duty?
The West Yorkshire Councils Leaders’ letter reads like a weak response to public pressure. If they’d wanted to find out what was in the West Yorkshire Sustainability and Transformation Plan they could have got their hands on it. At least five other Council Leaders have, and have published their Footprint Sustainability and Transformation Plans.
What’s stopping the West Yorkshire Council Leaders from doing the same?