Tell the Secretary of State to listen to the public, campaigners demand of Councils’ health scrutiny committee

Both Calderdale and Kirklees 999 Call for the NHS and Hands off HRI made deputation statements at the Calderdale and Kirklees Joint Health Scrutiny Committee meeting on 7th September.

The Committee was meeting to scrutinise revised proposals for the Huddersfield and Halifax hospital cuts, as the Health Secretary had said the original ones were a bit rubbish.

Cristina George said Hands off HRI were very disappointed in the revised submissions to the Secretary of State – they were the same plan in different wrapping paper.The big question was about how community care will be measured, in order to know if hospital beds can be cut.

Urgent & A&E proposals were vague. They were concerned that there was no more detail

Feedback from Trust/Local Medical Committee meetings was that Social services were underfunded, but there was  nothing in the revised proposal about improving that.

Hands off HRI had contacted the  Secretary of  State’s office about what happens next  and was told that it’s up to local determination. So what about the Secretary of  State’s response to the revised proposals? There’s a need for clarity about next steps in the process.

There is disagreement between the Councils.

They are interested in the views of the committee on the next stages.

The Hands off HRI fight continues. They will find out if the JR is to go ahead. They are in this for the long haul.

Speaking for Calderdale and Kirklees 999 Call for the NHS, Rosemary Hedges said they appreciate the Joint Health Scrutiny Committee’s decision to decide in public on their position on the revised proposals from the NHS organisations and Councils.

We can see no merit in any of them. Apart from Kirklees Council’s proposal, they are the same old same old – with a few vague concessions to the Secretary of State’s requirements.

We can’t see how Kirklees Council’s proposal for new District General Hospital with full blue light A&E somewhere between Huddersfield and Dewsbury is better than keeping Huddersfield Royal Infirmary as a District General Hospital

We welcomed the Secretary of State’s recognition of serious flaws in the original proposal, but we were disappointed by the limitations of his and the Independent Reconfiguration Panel’s response.

We ask you to include this in your position.

is anyone listening text only

Scrutiny should be a way for public views to be heard about commissioning and delivery of NHS services. But we don’t feel that the Independent Reconfiguration Panel and the Secretary of State have listened to the public.

The Independent Reconfiguration Panel has not responded to our concerns. We told them that their current terms of reference for reviews of substantial NHS changes are too narrow to effectively protect the health interests of the public and the NHS itself.

Without taking into account the effects of “austerity” public spending cuts and Sustainability and Transformation Plans/Integrated Care Systems, meaningful scrutiny of significant service changes is not possible.

Successive governments’ austerity policy is driving the Right Care Right Time Right Place proposals – not the clinically- based decisions of commissioners, hospitals and local medical committees.

Equally, successive governments have failed to produce a decent NHS workforce plan. In 2010, the number of places at medical schools was cut by 3.6% and the number of places on undergraduate nursing courses was slashed by a massive 13%.

As a result , our NHS and social care services are fighting a losing battle to provide adequate care for patients and decent working conditions for staff.

CHFT’s Full Business Case refers to this as “the strategic context”; its Clinical Case for Change says that the hospitals Trust can’t meet national guidelines for clinical standards regarding staffing and building standards without:

“a major injection of permanent staffing and financial resources beyond that which is known to be available from government.”

The Joint Health Scrutiny Committee has overlooked these issues and agrees with the local NHS organisations that “maintaining the status quo is not an option”.

So it has not told the Independent Reconfiguration Panel of valid arguments for keeping both District General Hospitals, each with full 24/7 blue light A&Es.

That’s why we asked the Independent Reconfiguration Panel to visit Calderdale and Greater Huddersfield to carry out a full review of the plans and speak with the full range of interested people.

The Independent Reconfiguration Panel refused, because they would:

“inevitably need to cover new ground that is the responsibility of CCGs, CHFT NHSE and NHSI. At the moment it is not possible to know whether the disputed proposals are feasible. Further work focussing on out of hospital care, hospital capacity and availability of capital is required from the NHS before a conclusion is reached.”

We agree that the proposals don’t stand up – but we think the new ground that needs to be covered IS the responsibility of those scrutinising the NHS organsations’ proposals – including the Independent Reconfiguration Panel.

This means questioning the mantra that “maintaining the status quo is not an option” – code for “We can’t afford two District General Hospitals, because there’s not enough staff and not enough money.”

There has been sustained, widespread, vocal, rationally argued and informed public opposition to this mantra – but you’d never guess it from the Independent Reconfiguration Panel’s one- sided advice to the Secretary of State.

Unless the Joint Health Scrutiny Committee includes these concerns in its position on the revised proposals, we fear the Independent Reconfiguration Panel will say that the local NHS organisations can sort out any problems, working with the Joint Health Scrutiny Committee.

We have seen the disasters that have resulted from this, in the case of Grantham A&E and the Mid Yorks “meeting the challenge” hospital cuts.

Along with other NHS campaign groups, we are meeting MPs in the House of Commons on Monday in order to discuss how to improve the scrutiny and referral process.

The Independent Reconfiguration Panel say they are interested in the outcome of our deliberations, which we will certainly inform them of.

Please include our concerns in your response to the Secretary of State.

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