Please tell Calderdale and Kirklees Councillors to publicly scrutinise hospitals cuts and centralisation plans before it’s too late

Before midnight, Sunday 11th September 2022, please read and sign the following open letter to Calderdale and Kirklees Joint Health Scrutiny Committee, if you agree it must urgently meet for public scrutiny of the hospitals trust’s business plans for:

  • The design and build of Huddersfield Royal Infirmary local walk-in A&E, and key backlog maintenance for the crumbling hospital.
  • The overall Reconfiguration of Calderdale and Huddersfield hospitals trust’s Services and Estate Developments of both Huddersfield Royal Infirmary and Calderdale Royal Hospital

You can sign the letter online here. (Ignore the Google sign in. You don’t need to do it.). UPDATE: THE DEADLINE FOR SIGNING HAS PASSED, SO THE ONLINE SIGNATURE FORM IS NOW CLOSED

(If the link doesn’t work for you, please email your name and short postcode to changingmorethanlightbulbs@gmail.com, with the subject heading: Scrutiny Open Letter signature.)

Why we’re sending the letter

There have been no public meetings of Calderdale and Kirklees Joint Health Scrutiny Committee since 16th November 2021

At that meeting, the hospitals Trust refused to present its Business Cases to Councillors and the public, on the grounds that they were not public documents.

So Councillors were unable to access the detailed information they needed to discharge their vital scrutiny functions, of working out if the contentious hospitals “reconfiguration” plans are in the health interests of the Calderdale and Kirklees public, and the local NHS.

The Committee’s Co-Chairs Cllrs Colin Hutchinson and Liz Smaje were compelled to remind CHFT and Calderdale and Kirklees NHS Commissioners that they must comply with statutory obligations governing Scrutiny access to CHFT reconfiguration plans and business cases.

They scheduled another public meeting for the New Year but none has been held.

The proposed reconfiguration of both our hospitals can only lawfully go ahead if the Scrutiny Committee recommends it – and they can only make a recommendation one way or another if they have access to the information they need to make up their minds on a rational basis. But the reconfiguration is steaming ahead regardless!

If you agree, please sign the following open letter to Calderdale and Kirklees Joint Health Scrutiny Committee, which we are copying to NHS England, the Department of Health and Social Care and other usual suspects including NHS North East and Yorkshire, Calderdale and Kirklees MPs, the Independent Reconfiguration Panel, the Health Minister, West Yorkshire NHS Integrated Care Board etc

Here is the form to sign the open letter. (Ignore the Google sign in. You don’t need to do it.)

You can read the open letter here

Dear Calderdale and Kirklees Joint Health Scrutiny Committee,

Please urgently hold a public meeting of the Scrutiny Committee, so that we can see your progress – if any – in holding Calderdale and Huddersfield NHS Foundation Trust to their statutory obligations to allow effective Councillor scrutiny of the Trust’s:

  • Full Business Case for the new Huddersfield Royal Infirmary A&E and key backlog maintenance for the crumbling hospital; and
  • Outline Business Case for Reconfiguration of the hospital trust’s Services and Estate Developments of both Huddersfield Royal Infirmary and Calderdale Royal Hospital

We are dismayed that at your most recent public meeting, on 16th November 2021, the hospitals Trust refused to produce these Business Cases, on the grounds that they were not public documents.

How can this possibly be the case?

In November 2014, the hospitals Trust published its original hospitals’ reconfiguration Outline Business Case.

So why is the Trust now refusing to publish the current, revised version of the Outline Business Case? What have they got to hide?

We support the Co-Chairs’ direction to the Trust that they must in future comply with statutory obligations governing Scrutiny access to the Trusts’ business cases.

You scheduled a further meeting to carry out this Scrutiny in the 2022 new year. But as far as we know, no public Scrutiny Committee meetings have taken place since then.

We are angry and frustrated that Councillors have been unable to discharge your scrutiny functions with regard to both the Full Business Case for the new Huddersfield Royal Infirmary A&E and the Outline Business Case for Reconfiguration of the hospital trust’s Services and Estate Developments of both Huddersfield Royal Infirmary and Calderdale Royal Hospital.

Particularly when a key point in the Independent Reconfiguration Panel’s review of the original reconfiguration proposals, that the Scrutiny Committee rejected in 2017, was that NHS organisations should from now on provide timely information to the Calderdale and Kirklees Joint Health and Overview Scrutiny Committee.

We are dismayed that no further meeting in public of the Scrutiny Committee has been held – although since then, Calderdale Planning Committee has approved the Planning Application for the reconfigured Calderdale Royal Hospital, construction of the new local walk-in A&E at Huddersfield Royal Infirmary is well underway and CHFT’s Annual Report 2021/2 [P160- 161, Financial Governance] has announced,

“The Trust is now working to develop the required Full Business Case that will enable the reconfiguration to be completed by 2026, and transformational efficiencies to be delivered thereafter subject to the relevant approvals.”

To us, this looks as if both the Business Cases that the Trust has refused to present to the Scrutiny Committee have already received NHS England, Treasury and Department of Health approval – without scrutiny being done, and being seen to be done.

Admittedly, at the 16th November 2021 Scrutiny meeting, the hospitals trust did agree to provide the Scrutiny Committee with written information about key issues raised by Councillors about both the Huddersfield A&E Full Business Case and the Outline Business Case.

But we have no idea if they did, or of the adequacy of any written answers the trust may have provided.

We, the public, need to know what is going on with our hospitals, and with the wider changes to community health services that are needed to make the hospitals reconfiguration viable. The Trust’s ‘engagement’ activities are in no way adequate to this task.

We share the Scrutiny Committee’s concerns about many aspects of the revised “reconfiguration”, that Councillors and members of the public have repeatedly identified as questionable in terms of the health interests of the public, and the interests of the local NHS.

We find it completely unacceptable that your questions about the following issues received inadequate answers from CHFT and the Clinical Commissioning Groups at the 16th November 2021 meeting:

  • Whether as a result of construction costs inflation, the development of both the HRI walk-in A&E and the CRH acute and emergency hospital for both Calderdale and Kirklees would be subject to ‘value engineering’ – cost-cutting design changes to enable the new builds to come in within budget.
  • The cost of backlog maintenance on HRI, in addition to the costs of the new walk-in HRI A&E
  • The future model of care at HRI
  • Whether the model would lead to sustainable staffing at both hospitals
  • How the reconfiguration would address health inequalities that had become very clear during the pandemic
  • Whether the model that’s being developed would lead to a sustainable staffing situation at HRI and CRH
  • The financial impact on the Trust of the full reconfiguration
  • What CCG and community services modelling has informed the Outline Business Case, in terms of modelling hospital bed/days capacity in the reconfigured CRH acute and emergency hospital, based on investment in community services for the growing and ageing Calderdale and Kirklees population?
  • Whether the Outline Business Case includes or will include health needs information based on the 2021 census data, when it’s available. Have Calderdale and Kirklees health needs changed at all since the 2019 Strategic Outline Case, which was based on health needs information using 2011 census data?
  • How the hospitals trust will deal with loss of flexibility re using elective beds for acute activity in time of need, as a result of the split into hot/cold (acute/emergency and planned care) sites? How would CHFT deal with this when under winter pressure?
  • The use of reduced and alternative workforce models
  • How the reconfiguration will improve w/force productivity including theatre utilisation.
  • Changes to Intensive Care
  • Reassessing ambulance waiting times for handover of patients into the hospital

For the record, we attach a record of questions and answers about these issues at the Calderdale & Kirklees JHSC Meeting on 16 November 2021. We hope the hospitals Trust and the successor organisations to the Clinical Commissioning Groups, will fully answer these questions at a public Calderdale & Kirklees JHSC meeting in the very near future.

In the meantime, a Freedom of Information request is being sent to the hospitals Trust, for publication of both the Business Cases that the trust withheld from the 16 November 2021 Scrutiny Meeting.

We look forward to your prompt reply.

Signed….

LETTER ENDS

Attachment with Q&A record from the 16th November 2021 Calderdale and Kirklees Joint Health Scrutiny Committee

Here is where you can add your name to the Open Letter. (Ignore the Google sign in. You don’t need to do it.)

If the link doesn’t work for you, please email your name and short postcode changingmorethanlightbulbs@gmail.com, with the subject heading: Scrutiny Open Letter signature.

Please also share this link and information with your friends, colleagues and family.

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