Huddersfield health chief admits public confusion over shake-up plans

NHS England asks for assurances on consultation process

Carol McKenna, chief officer of the CCG
Carol McKenna, chief officer of the CCG

Health chiefs have been summoned to NHS headquarters to explain their new blueprint for care in Calderdale and Huddersfield.

Greater Huddersfield and Calderdale Clinical Commissioning Groups (CCGs) are currently considering plans to radically shake-up health services.

As reported, the controversial ‘Right Care, Right Time, Right Place’ review could lead to the closure of either Huddersfield or Halifax’s A & E ward as more care is moved into the community.

Public engagement is currently underway but the CCGs say the plans put forward so far are not theirs as they are proposals from the hospitals, mental health trust and not-for-profit care firm Locala, which runs community health services in Kirklees and parts of Calderdale.

Chief executives of the two CCGs, which finance the majority of health services, Carol McKenna and Dr Matt Walsh, met with NHS England management late last month.

Presenting an update to members of Kirklees Council’s Health and Wellbeing Board, Mrs McKenna admitted there was public confusion over the plans.

She said: “The public don’t understand the difference between the health commissioners (the CCGs) and the providers (the hospitals).

“That’s not surprising but it’s something we need to do something about.

These plans were formulated by the providers but it is us as commissioners that have to make the decision.

“NHS England said they need to know what the commissioners’ proposals are but we’ve said until we complete the engagement process we will not be in a position to do that.”

Mrs McKenna said NHS England had sought assurance that the proper consultation processes were being taken.

And she revealed they had pushed back the date that they would reveal the official options for change from May to July.

Drop in sessions to engage with Huddersfield residents are not being held until late May and early June.

She added: “We need to comply with our legal duties but also make it a far reaching exercise that involves the public in as full a way as possible. We need to learn from Mid Yorkshire hospitals’ experience.”

Chairman of the board and leader of Kirklees Council, Clr David Sheard, said: “We tend to consult on the answer and not on the question. We need to talk to people about the services they want.”

Earlier this month Calderdale Council passed a motion calling for the review to be completely withdrawn but Kirklees Council has not indicated if it will be doing anything similar.

Clr Sheard, added: “The last thing we want is a competition between Kirklees and Calderdale. We’re trying to not get into a battle between the two authorities, that doesn’t help anyone.”

Meanwhile, opponents of the restructure are continuing to gather support. Band Together For Our NHS, a Calderdale based group working to block the shake-up, will hold a procession through Halifax to Calderdale Royal Hospital on Saturday, May 3.

The group is also consulting with lawyers from the Save Lewisham Hospital campaign, which successfully stopped the closure of the south London hospital last year.

Barry Sheerman MP is one of the speakers at a public meeting about the proposals at Huddersfield Methodist Mission on Thursday, May 1 at 7pm.

Drop in sessions: Salendine Nook YMCA, Wednesday, May 28, 2-7pm, Slaithwaite Village Hall, Friday, May 30, 2-7pm, Bighouse Civic Hall, Wednesday, June 4, 2-7pm, Kirkburton “The Hub”, Thursday, June 5, 2-7pm, Holmfirth Civic Hall, Wednesday, June 11, 2-7pm

www.rightcaretimeplace.co.uk

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