I’ve asked #Calderdale Council health and social care scrutiny panel to ignore Scrutiny Officer’s advice to refuse to act on Save our A&Es petition

Here is my email, please consider sending one of your own before the Scrutiny Panel meeting at 6pm today, Halifax Town Hall. If you can join our lobby at 5.30pm that would be brilliant too.

(You will see two SP members have gone and new ones come in, as a result of the recent Tory/LibDem Council coup. It is now entirely blokes.)

 Councillor Adam Wilkinson <councillor.awilkinson@calderdale.gov.uk>,
 Councillor Dave Draycott <councillor.ddraycott@calderdale.gov.uk>,
 Councillor Graham Hall <councillor.ghall@calderdale.gov.uk>,
 Councillor Malcolm James <councillor.mjames@calderdale.gov.uk>,
 Councillor Bob Metcalfe <councillor.bmetcalfe@calderdale.gov.uk>

subject: Petitioners’ request to ignore Scrutiny Officer’s advise and agree to act on the petition

Dear Scrutiny Panel members

The Scrutiny Officer’s advice to the Scrutiny Panel is to refuse to act on our petition, signed by 118 Calderdale Citizens, and instead pass it on to the “People’s Commission”.

We hope that you will ignore this advice and agree to act on our petition, which basically asks the SP to use its powers to call in the 5 local NHS organisations to a formal enquiry and require them to explain the Strategic Outline Case/Right Care proposals now, before they go any further.

The reasons why we disagree with the Scrutiny Officer’s advice are:

1) He appears to have ignored the SP’s instruction to investigate whether acting on the petition would in any way jeopardise the Joint Health Overview and Scrutiny Committee review of the formal commissioning proposals, scheduled for September, and any possible referral of the proposals to the Secretary of State.

This was the reason the SP meeting decided to postpone the decision about whether or not to act on the petition.

The Scrutiny Officer’s advice to the 12th August SP meeting makes no mention of any such investigation or its outcome.

2) The Scrutiny Officer advises that the People’s Commission should act on the petition.

This is clearly impossible, since the People’s Commission has no powers to hold a formal enquiry or to call in the NHS organisations.

This is why the petitioners addressed their request to the Scrutiny Panel, which is the Council body with the statutory powers to hold the local NHS organisations to account in a formal process of enquiry.

3) The Scrutiny Officer’s advises that the SP should pass the petition to the “People’s Commission” because:

“Members of Council see the People’s Commission as the way in which they wish the health and social needs of Calderdale residents to be examined. It is suggested that the Adults Health and Social Care Scrutiny Panel should acknowledge this and receive updates on the work of the People’s Commission rather than instigating separate enquiries.”

This is a questionable assertion on at least two grounds.

One is that not all Councillors expected the so-called People’s Commission to end up with the terms of reference and membership that it has. I am aware that there is a gap between what at least some Councillors thought they were voting for, and what they got.

The second is that there was no suggestion to Councillors at any stage that I’m aware of, that the “People’s Commission” should usurp the statutory functions of the Scrutiny Panel.

The Commission’s task of asking the public what kind of NHS and social care it wants is totally different from the Scrutiny Panel’s role of scrutinising the proposals of the Council’s NHS partners.

In my opinion, this distinction should remain clear.

This is why, on behalf of the petitioners, I ask the Scrutiny Panel to reject the Scrutiny Officer’s advice, and agree to act on the petition.

4. This seems even more important now than it was when people signed the petition just a few weeks ago, since both Clinical Commissioning Groups are now asking their Governing Bodies to approve the immediate implementation of the Right Care community health and social care service reconfiguration, without any public consultation, and to only carry out a public consultation on the proposed A&E closure and cuts to acute hospital services and beds once the community care service reconfiguration is complete.

I hope this makes sense.

Minutes of last meeting

On another matter, I’ve read the Minutes of the last SP meeting and they seem to omit two important pieces of information that the CHFT told the SP:

a) Mags Barnaby slipped in the fact that although the April 2014 Balanced Plan, which she presented to the SP, had identified efficiency savings of £13.45m, by July CHFT had realised it could only make £7.7m of these efficiency savings and were having to look for new ways of doing this.

(Plain Speaker has since been told by CHFT staff that Mags Barnaby has recently invited them to lunchtime meetings, to ask them if they have ideas for other ways of cutting spending.)

b) One of the CHFT/CCG team, I’m not sure who from memory but it’s probably in my notes somewhere, said that CHFT went into the red in the 1st quarter of 2014.

Since the Trust has a legal duty to break even, surely this must be of concern to SP members and worthy of recording in the Minutes?

Kind regards

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