Use your clout and save our A&Es, campaigners tell Calderdale Scrutiny Panel

Calderdale Trades Council, Calderdale 38 Degrees NHS Campaign Group and members of the public are calling on Calderdale Council’s Adult Health and Scrutiny Panel to hold a formal inquiry into the hospital trust’s Strategic Outline Case proposals for shaking up NHS and social care.

They will be lobbying the Scrutiny Panel members at 5.30pm, before their 6.00pm meeting at Halifax Town Hall on Tuesday 1st July. Everyone is welcome to take part. Expect/bring ukeleles!

Please consider signing this petition to Scrutiny Panel members, which will be presented to the Scrutiny Panel on 1st July.

Campaigners say if Calderdale Council is serious about its opposition to the A&E closure plans, the Adults Health and Social Care Scrutiny Panel must immediately call in the NHS organisations to explain their Strategic Outline Case proposals and the evidence it’s based on, and also invite the public to speak about their concerns and questions.

Find facts about Hospital Trust’s July start for cuts and changes

This call has added urgency following a leaked Trust plan for £13.5m spending cuts this year. This plan shows that the Trust is to make cuts and changes that part of the proposed shake-up, before the public has had a chance to take part in the consultation about the reorganisation of services.

If this turns out to be the case, it would be unlawful, according to legal advice provided to Plain Speaker. If an NHS organisation were to predetermine the outcome of a mandatory consultation by making changes before the consultation that would only make sense if the service reconfiguration went ahead,  it would be possible to place an injunction on these changes.

Campaigners say the Scrutiny Panel must call in the Trust (and its partners) before it makes these cuts and changes and find out exactly what’s going on – the leaked document says these are mostly to be carried out between July and December this year.

Gary Scott, organiser of the family-friendly Save Our A&Es walk last March and the Save Our A&Es float and stall at Halifax Gala, said,

“We’ve already managed to seek initial legal advice about the proposed changes to our NHS and social care, and part of that advice has been to ask the Council if they’re really doing everything that they can to stop these dangerous changes to our local NHS. The proposed Peoples Commission, (suggested by us), seems to have been watered down, and its “independent” chair is a proponent of the clinical commissioning model, which is at odds with what the majority of GPs say they want. We’d really like the Scrutiny Panel to call in the organisations involved in the Strategic Outline Case, along with the general public, to properly scrutinise these proposals. This has worked elsewhere, and we know that at least some of the Panel are aware of this – so why not here?”

At a Special Council Meeting on 16th April 2014, Calderdale Council voted unanimously to tell the 5 Calderdale and Huddersfield NHS organisations  to withdraw their Strategic Outline Case proposals, which include closing one or both A&Es in Calderdale and Huddersfield.

Council Leader Tim Swift then contacted the organisations, but the hospitals Trust and its partners have refused to withdraw the Strategic Outline Case.

A spokesperson for Calderdale 38 Degrees NHS Campaign Group said,

“Calderdale 38degrees NHS Campaign Group supports demands for the Adults Health and Social Care Scrutiny Panel to initiate an investigation into the local health chiefs’ Strategic Outline Case.  This is a hugely unpopular document and the Panel would be acting in the interests of a large percentage of the community if they did this.”

Members of public at Calderdale 38 Degrees stall, Halifax Gala

Next planning stage is commercially confidential

It’s particularly important for the Scrutiny Panel to call in the NHS organisations now. The next stage of the hospitals Trust’s planning process will be commercially confidential and not available to the public. In response to a question about this from Calderdale 38 Degrees NHS Campaign Group, Calderdale CCG  said,

“The Calderdale and Hudderfield NHS Foundation Trust’s Outline Business Case will be submitted to commissioners in the month of June. This is a commercially confidential document which will not be available to the public. This will be held securely whilst commissioners develop their proposals for Care Closer To Home and outline our strategic intentions for hospital services.”

If you’d like to contact Scrutiny Panel members, their names and links to their email addresses are at the bottom of the page.

Council has clout to call a halt to NHS organisations’ proposals

Calderdale Council’s unanimous vote to reject the Strategic Outline Case followed passionate and sustained public opposition to the Trust’s proposals to cut costs by:

  • closing Calderdale A&E,
  • turning Calderdale Royal Hospital into an 87 bed planned care hospital with a Minor Injuries Unit (without indicating what would happen to the remaining 360+ beds)
  • centralising the reduced acute and emergency services at Huddersfield Royal Infirmary
  • setting up a community care system aimed at cutting acute and emergency hospital admissions for patients with long term illnesses.

At the Special Council meeting in April, Councillor Baines said that although he was happy to support the motion calling on the hospitals trust to withdraw the Strategic Outline Case, the Council had no clout to make the trust withdraw the Strategic Outline Case.

However, legal advice to Save our A&E campaigners is that the Adults Health and Social Care Scrutiny Panel is fully entitled and empowered to hold a formal inquiry into the Strategic Outline Case, by calling in the NHS organisations to explain the proposals and the evidence that they’re based on, and also inviting the public to give their views.

This can only be a positive move – either it will clear up Councillors’ and the public’s doubts and fears about the Strategic Outline Case proposals, or it will confirm them.

If the inquiry were to confirm Councillors in their view that the Strategic Outline Case proposals are not fit for purpose and will do more harm than good, the fact that all the evidence was in the public domain would strengthen the Council’s and the public’s grounds for opposing to the proposals during the consultation.

Scrutiny Panel to decide its yearly work plan at 1st July meeting

The Scrutiny Panel will decide on its outline Work Plan for 2014-15. This sets out potential areas for scrutiny.

The outline Work Plan document for the meeting says, “It is likely that the Scrutiny Panel will wish to consider those [sic] the work of the Strategic Review [the document that the NHS providers’ Strategic Outline Case is based on] and so should consider how they wish to include this in the work programme.”

The outline Work Plan also says that “any recommendations for substantive variation in service that may impact on both Calderdale and Kirklees” gives rise to the need to set up a joint health overview and scrutiny committee (JHOSC) between Calderdale and Kirklees to examine those proposals. It says the Panel “agreed last year to participate in a joint health overview and scrutiny committee with Kirklees should it be required and appointed four Members to such a committee. The report considered by the Panel in January 2014 is attached as Appendix 2.” But Appendix 2 isn’t attached to the Work Plan.

However both these proposals fall a long way short of holding an immediate inquiry into the Strategic Outline Case.

Members of Calderdale Council’s Adults Health and Social Care Scrutiny Panel

For information on the agenda for the next meeting and when it is, see the Calendar.

There are seven members of the scrutiny panel – 3 Tories, 3 Labour, 1 LibDem

Adam David Wilkinson

Graham Hall

Chris Pillai

Ann McAllister (Deputy Chair)

Dave Draycott

Anne Collins

Malcolm James (Chair)

Faisal Shoukat (substitute – attending 1st July meeting in place of Adam Wilkinson, who’s unable to attend)

Updated 28 June 2014 with information about hospital Trust’s leaked cuts plans. Updated 29 June 2014 to clarify the scope and purpose of the proposed Scrutiny Panel inquiry into the hospitals Trust’s Strategic Outline Case.

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