A REPORT into health provision in Kirklees Council’s Ashbrow ward has criticised health managers’ move to new multi-million pound headquarters.
A council Scrutiny Review Panel found the public perception was that while finances could not stretch to services for local residents, they could be spent on Broad Lea House, a new building at Bradley for NHS Kirklees bosses.
In 2009 a “Councillor Call for Action” review panel was set up after the three Ashbrow Ward councillors Ken Smith, Cath Harris and Jean Calvert decided there had been a failure to establish any “meaningful engagement” with NHS Kirklees in response to concerns about a lack of health provision.
They pointed to efforts to resolve the situation dating back to January 2005.
The report will be presented to Cabinet on August 17, and while the panel does acknowledge that the trust is facing financial pressures and was taking positive steps, it will make grim reading for managers.
It outlines that the trust had decided Bradley would be the best location for new GP premises and discussions had taken place about what services would be needed.
Just before the end of 2009 however, the NHS operating framework was issued which outlined big savings – and new financial plans had to be created.
The report concludes that priority should be given to additional health premises in Ashbrow.
It adds that the panel was surprised at the “relatively large” numbers of residents who chose to travel significant distances to doctors’ surgeries, and the number of pensioners who pay £10 for return trips to the Grange Group Practice.
The panel also found that most of the residents travelled to Huddersfield to access an optician.
One section read: “NHS Kirklees should strengthen and improve its internal and external communications processes.” It said that while the organisation internal communications were its own business it needed to take a proactive approach in communicating to members of the public in announcing changes to plans for health provision or new initiatives”.
A spokeswoman for NHS Kirklees said: “The Overview and Scrutiny Committee acknowledged that there were a wide range of health and associated services available in the Ashbrow area.
“However the PCT recognises that we need to improve the information available to local people so that they are aware and know how to access these services.
“A new health centre for the Ashbrow area remains a priority for NHS Kirklees but this is not affordable in the current economic climate.
“NHS Kirklees had to move from the St Luke's site as it is due to close this year. The move to Broad Lea House has saved both staff time and the PCT money as the annual costs for accommodation and staff travel costs have decreased.
“Staff no longer have to travel between sites which saves time and reduces carbon emissions. Both the energy efficiency of the building and the reduction in travel are both contributing to the green agenda.”