East of England Clinical Senate under fire for disregarding evidence and being cat’s paw for STP cuts planners

As Lincolnshire Health Scrutiny Committee decides to call in East of England Clinical Senate to account for its rushed recommendation that Lincolnshire hospitals trust should not proceed with their plans to reopen Grantham A&E overnight, evidence has emerged of  Essex Sustainability and Transformation Plan leaders’ misrepresentation of clinical support for plans for Essex A&E cuts and downgrades, that the East of England Clinical Senate had “assured” in no less than four reviews.

The East of England Clinical Senate has come under fire from SOS Grantham Hospital, Cllr Charmaine Morgan and Fighting for Life Lincolnshire, for its rushed review of Lincolnshire hospital trust’s proposal to reopen Grantham A&E overnight, that omits important new evidence regarding the role played by Grantham Hospital A&E unit and recommends overturning the hospital trust’s recent decision to reopen Grantham A&E overnight.

New evidence obtained from Lincolnshire hospital trust’s response to a SOS Grantham Hospital Freedom of Information Request shows that emergencies including breathing difficulties, serious bleeding, heart failure and sepsis have been treated at Grantham A&E, with more than 6700 critically ill people being admitted into hospital in 2015/16 from the A&E unit.

The number of patients admitted is so high that there is a concern that ‘a reduction in A&E hours, or the downgrade of Grantham Hospital A&E to an Urgent Care Centre will have a detrimental impact on the future viability of key staff and other hospital departments, especially the Emergency Assessment Unit and Ward 1.’

Essex senior hospital doctors call out Sustainability and Transformation Plan leaders over seriously misleading GPs and local councillors over clinical support for A&E cuts plans

The Clinical Senate’s reviews in Essex are also open to question. The East of England Clinical Senate carried out four clinical reviews as part of the “development process” for the “reconfiguration” of A&E services across three Essex hospital trusts, and Essex Sustainability and Transformation Plan “system leaders” announced that their plans were fully supported by clinicians.

But now it’s emerged that senior hospital clinicians warned the STP leaders last May that they did not support the proposal to form a “super red” emergency department at Basildon hospital or remove “front door” emergency services from any of the hospitals; and that they thought local GPs and local councillors had been misled about the amount of clinical support the A&E reconfiguration plans had.

The senior hospital consultants’ letter, which they sent to the chief executive of the group overseeing the three hospitals, Clare Panniker and her senior team, was made public through a Freedom of Information request by the Save Southend A&E campaign group.

It said:

“We are told that when these proposals were challenged by groups [of GPs and local councillors who were consulted about the plans], they were told the proposed changes were all driven by emergency clinicians. We feel this is a serious misrepresentation and would like this to be addressed.”

The Essex system leaders subsequently dropped plans for a “blanket” redirection of all blue light ambulances from two of the area’s hospitals to Basildon.

The role of the so-called “independent” East of England Clinical Senate needs serious scrutiny. It seems that rather than being independent, they are the plaything of the government’s quangos NHS Improvement and NHS England, and their cuts and privatisation agenda.

A spokeswoman for Save Southend A&E told the Health Service Journal:

“It is clear that the Mid and South Essex Success Regime senior members were told by the lead consultants from the A&E departments in question as far back as 15 December, 2016 that they did not support the Regime’s plans to downgrade two of the A&E departments whilst making the third, Basildon, a larger emergency care centre.

“Yet despite this, the Success Regime continued to mislead the public and politicians alike by claiming that their plans were ‘clinically led’ for a number of months afterwards.

“It is incredible that it took over six months of extremely high profile public campaigning, backed up by overwhelming research based clinical evidence proving the dangers the public would face if their ill conceived, cost driven plans went ahead, when all along they knew their own clinicians did not support the scheme.”

The “success regime” is Orwellian for “clampdown” – NHS England’s and NHS Improvement’s Success Regime has been imposed on three areas in England where the NHS is the most broke. It is like a Sustainability and Transformation Plan but with added cuts and pressure from the government’s quangos.

Essex GPs revolt over acute hospital services consultation, despite NHS England’s bullying

In a fresh twist, three out of the five clinical commissioning group GP chairs in mid and south Essex have refused to vote in favour of publishing a consultation on plans to reconfigure local acute hospital services. The plan is called “Your care in the best place ”and the consultation will run until 9 March.

The GPs made it clear that the plans, which involve shifting services out of hospital, will not work because the practices are already short of staff and the proposals are not properly funded – however the project rolls on because NHS England have offered them a stark choice – accept a package which includes insufficient funding which we all know will not work or reject the deal and receive nothing.

Simon Cross, a member of the public who attended the Clinical Commissioning Groups’ meeting reported,

“The GP’s were bullied mercilessly for over half an hour by the ‘independent’ chair and the person from NHS England who was supposed to be there in an advisory capacity. From what we can gather they were not going to publish the minutes until February (a month from the end of consultation and 3 months after the meeting. We are chasing these up and I will more than likely be objecting to the bulk of the minutes because I cannot see them accurately representing what actually went on!”

The culture of bullying and secrecy that NHS England and NHS Improvement and their Sustainability and Transformation Partnerships have created must be torn down so that rational, democratic discussions and decisions about how our NHS and social care services operate can take place. But with the political appointee Lady Dido Harding now head of  NHS Improvement, what are the chances of that?

She was ennobled by her old university friend, Cameron and sits as a Tory peer – although the Health Select Committee when reviewing her appointment, asked her to move to the cross benches (ie non-party political Peers who don’t have to vote on the instructions of a party whip).  Her husband is a Tory MP. She has no experience of the NHS.

We KEEP ON ASKING what’s happened to Nolan Standards of Integrity in Public Life.

This is what. Down the plughole.

Excellent and necessary dirt digging by Spinwatch about latest NHS Improvement shenanigans exposes revolving doors and conflicts of interest – and watch out Weston super Mare where the A&E is under threat and an Accountable Care System is being set up – your MP John Penrose is married to the new Chair of NHSI, Baroness Harding.


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