Better late than never. Lincolnshire Health Scrutiny Committee has to step up to its task now, as Lincolnshire Sustainability and Transformation Partnership has finally started public engagement on its plans for a huge redisorganisation of the county’s NHS services.
To date Lincolnshire Health Scrutiny Committee has allowed the Department of Health, the Secretary of State, the Minister for Health and local NHS organisations to run rings round it.
Between them, all the players in this sorry charade have kicked the Grantham A&E can right down the road and over the cliff, in what can only be seen as a stitch up.
At the end of last year, SW Lincs Clinical Commissioning Group and United Lincolnshire Hospitals Trust finally sent the Minister of Health a plan and a timetable for engagement and consultation on future options for Grantham A&E, in the context of Lincolnshire-wide plans for urgent and emergency care.
This was nearly two years after the Independent Reconfiguration Panel told them to do this, and to share it with the Health Scrutiny Committee.
However, SW Lincs Clinical Commissioning Group and United Lincolnshire Hospitals Trust have refused to give Lincolnshire Health Scrutiny Committee a copy of the report. And neither the Minister of State for Health nor the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care has bothered to pass on the report to the Health Scrutiny Committee.
Nor have successive Secretaries of State bothered to do anything with the Health Scrutiny Committee’s second referral to the Secretary of State, in January 2018.
On 26th Feb, the Health Scrutiny Committee Chair, Cllr Carl Macey, wrote to the Prime Minister, asking her
“to urge the Secretary of State to release information on engagement and consultation and make a determination on the Committee’s referral of January 2018 as soon as possible.”
So far, no answer has been received.
Future consultation must cover ALL significant changes to Lincs NHS – not just hospital services cuts and centralisation
The online Healthy Conversations Acute Services Review engagement questionnaire says that:
“Any options that suggest significant change to hospital services will go through NHS England assurance processes and public consultation before service changes are made.”
If this means Lincs Sustainability and Transformation Partnership are trying to limit consultation to significant changes to hospital services, this is rubbish. Any options that suggest significant change to ANY LOCAL NHS Services need to go to public consultation – not just significant change to hospital services.
The hospital services changes depend on changes to primary and community health and public health services, – replacing cut hospital services with so-called Care Closer to Home. So those changes have to be included in any consultation and assurance process too.
The formal public consultation -when it comes – has to be about the whole Lincs Sustainability and Transformation Partnership. Because as John Turner points out, the Lincs Sustainability and Transformation Partnership proposals are about establishing
“a new NHS service model for the 21st century”.
You can’t just cherrypick random bits for scrutiny. All the bits are interdependent.