Calderdale and Kirklees Councillors’ drastic failure to hold NHS organisations to account over hospitals cuts revised plan

There has been a drastic failure by Calderdale and Kirklees Joint Health Scrutiny Committee to find out about the status and progress of the Strategic Outline Case for the revised hospital cuts and centralisation plan.

This is evident from the Scrutiny co-chairs’ email (Downloadable (pdf) here) and Cllr Adam Wilkinson’s tweets, replying to an open email from Ck999 and scores of members of the public.

Our open email, sent before Christmas, protested at Calderdale and Kirklees Joint Health Scrutiny Committee’s failure to hold its scheduled November meeting, to scrutinise the Strategic Outline Case.

It’s the duty of the Scrutiny Committee to make sure that the revised plan is in the interests of the local NHS and the public who rely on it. They can only do that if they know what’s going on with it.

But four contradictory stories about the status of the Strategic Outline Case (SOC) have been put out by NHS organisations and Calderdale and Kirklees Joint Health Scrutiny Committee:

  1. The hospitals Trust has sent the Strategic Outline Case to NHS Improvement and NHS England (according to Calderdale Clinical Commissioning Group information to its Governing Body meeting in December).
  2. NHS Improvement and NHS England have not received the Strategic Outline Case because the hospitals Trust has not yet written it. They expect the final draft in April (according to a tweet from Calderdale and Kirklees Joint Health Scrutiny Committee co-chair Cllr Adam Wilkinson).
  3. The hospitals Trust is to send the Strategic Outline Case to NHS Improvement and NHS England in February or March (According to the hospitals Trust company secretary and finance officer at the December Elected Governors’ meeting, and Cllr Adam Wilkinson’s statement at Calderdale Adults Health and Social Care Board – formerly known as Adults Health and Social Care Scrutiny Committee).
  4. There has been “some exchange of documents between CHFT and NHS Improvement and NHS England which probably includes stuff that will end up in the SOC” (conceded by Cllr Adam Wilkinson on twitter)

We are surprised and angry at Calderdale and Kirklees Councillors’ failure to find out what the hospitals trust has or hasn’t sent to NHS Improvement/NHS England.  We have now asked them to swiftly sort this out.

We hope they will do this before the rescheduled meeting of Calderdale and Kirklees Joint Health Scrutiny Committee on the afternoon of 15th February (exact time to be confirmed), at Halifax Town Hall.

Here is the email we sent them yesterday (12 January):

Subject: Scrutiny of CHFT’s Strategic Outline Case, clinical and financial sustainability docs and local NHS organisations’ updates to Secretary of State

To: Richard Dunne richard.dunne@kirklees.gov.uk, Adam Wilkinson councillor.awilkinson@calderdale.gov.uk, Cllr Anne Collins councillor.acollins@calderdale.gov.uk, Cllr Carole Pattison Carole.Pattison@kirklees.gov.uk, Cllr Elizabeth Smaje Elizabeth.Smaje@kirklees.gov.uk, Cllr Julie Stewart-Turner Julie.Stewart-Turner@kirklees.gov.uk, Cllr Richard Eastwood Richard.Eastwood@kirklees.gov.uk, Councillor Colin Hutchinson Councillor.CHutchinson@calderdale.gov.uk, Howard Blagbrough councillor.hblagbrough@calderdale.gov.uk, Mike Lodge Mike.Lodge@calderdale.gov.uk

Dear Richard

Thank you for your reply, on behalf of the Calderdale and Kirklees JHSC Co-Chairs, to the ck999 open email. 

Your reply did not answer our questions.  Please will you ask the Co-Chairs to do so now?

Since we sent the email, we have become even more puzzled about what is going on with the revised plan for the hospital and community services reconfiguration.

Multiple accounts have surfaced about the status of the Strategic Outline Case. The vague language in your email hasn’t clarified matters.

We are left with the clear impression that there has been a drastic failure of the Calderdale and Kirklees JHSC to find out who – if anyone – is telling the truth about the status and progress of the Strategic Outline Case.

You wrote

“During discussions with the NHS the Joint Chairs were informed of changes to the NHS timelines and as a consequence this delayed the timescales for arranging the next meeting of the Committee.
Following the recent announcement of capital funding dialogue with NHS has continued and the Joint Chairs understanding is that work is still being done on developing the Strategic Outline Case.”

In addition to answering our original questions, please will the co-chairs clarify the following matters:

  • When did discussions take place between the NHS and the Joint Chairs?  And who was present at these discussions? Were the discussions minuted? If so, where are the minutes and can we see them?
  • In the course of these “discussions”, who exactly told the Joint Chairs that NHS timelines had changed? And what are the new timelines?
  • What dialogue between Joint Chairs and the NHS has taken place since the capital funding was announced? ie what meetings have taken place, when, and who has been present?
  • In the course of this “dialogue”, who told the Joint Chairs that work is still being done on developing the Strategic Outline Case?

As mentioned, since we emailed the Co-Chairs, we have heard various contradictory accounts of the status of the Strategic Outline Case.

First, at a CHFT elected governors’ meeting, Victoria Pickles and Gary Boothby apparently said that the  Strategic Outline Case is due to be sent to NHS Improvement in Feb/March 2019.

They also gave the timeline for all the milestones in the development of the Strategic Outline Case, Outline Business Case and Full Business Case. It seems the Full Business Case is to be sent to the NHS quangos in March 2023.

To add to the confusion – and the urgent need for scrutiny of the Strategic Outline Care – as reported from that meeting, it seems that NHS Improvement are not being very clear about a number of aspects of the capital funding loan, which CHFT said will be coming from public funds.

The terms of the loan don’t seem to be very clear, in terms of the repayment period and interest rate.  From what we can gather, repayment is complicated. Apparently CHFT don’t pay interest if debts exceed assets. If assets exceed debts they pay 3.5% interest.

Second, in contrast to CHFT’s statement that the Strategic Outline Case is to go to NHS Improvement/NHS England in February,  Cllr Adam Wilkinson tweeted to @saveCRH (the ck999 twitter account):

 

“So the statement from the CCG papers is incorrect. NHSE and NHSI have just told me they do not expect the SOC to be formally submitted until April.”

 

We replied by asking:

 

“So how did CCG get it wrong? Could CHFT have sent them draft SOC, as NHSE/I say “final” SOC is not expected until April? CHFT apparently told governors’ meeting yesterday that they would send it to NHSI in Feb/March. This confusion makes urgent CKJHSC meeting vital.”

 

Cllr Wilkinson tweeted:

 

“It is a work in progress and drafts will be shared periodically. JHSC will be given as much as possible in advance of our meeting in Feb.”

 

We then asked:

 

“So is your understanding now that Calderdale CCG High Level Risk Register is probably correct and CHFT has sent its SOC as ‘work in progress’ to NHS Improvement?”

 

Cllr Wilkinson then told us:

 

“You will have to seek clarity from the CCGs or the Trust, but my understanding is that there has been some exchange of documents which probably includes stuff that will end up in the SOC, but they are nowhere near a finished SOC document.”

 

We are surprised and angry about this abrogation of responsibility and lack of clarity about what CHFT has or hasn’t sent to NHS Improvement/NHS England.

It is the job of Calderdale and Kirklees Joint Health Scrutiny Committee to hold local NHS organisations to account in relation to proposed significant NHS changes – not ours.

Our confusion only increased after the 20 December Calderdale Adults Health and Social Care Scrutiny Board meeting, when Cllr Wilkinson reportedly said that no Strategic Outline Case has been submitted to NHS Improvement/England by CHFT, and repeated CHFT’s timeline. 

We found this particularly baffling, since Cllr Wilkinson conceded on twitter that the Strategic Outline Case is a work in progress; that Calderdale CCG may be correct to say that CHFT may have sent a version of it to NHS Improvement; and that we should ask the CCG and CHFT for clarification.

We feel that Cllr Wilkinson should have acknowledged this lack of clarity to the  Calderdale AHSC Board, and attempted to resolve the confusion.

We can only conclude that there is a drastic failure of the Calderdale and Kirklees JHSC  to find out who – if anyone – is telling the truth about the status and progress of the Strategic Outline Case.

We hope for a swift remedy.

Regards,
Jenny Shepherd
Chair, Calderdale & Kirklees 999 Call for the NHS (CK999)

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