Councillors’ deep disappointment over the quality of health chiefs’ downgrade plan has been revealed.
In July councillors from Calderdale and Kirklees opted to use their powers to refer the controversial HRI shake-up for review by the Department of Health.
They said not enough was known about the impact of the proposal to radically shrink hospital care in Huddersfield in favour of an expansion in Halifax.
Kirklees Council has now revealed the contents of the formal referral – a 13 page letter sent to the Health Secretary, Jeremy Hunt, on September 1.
In it, members of the so-called Joint Health Scrutiny Committee (JHSC), say they were repeatedly left without answers to their questions.
Echoing the thoughts of Let’s Save HRI chairman, Mike Ramsden, who has called for mass resignations, they note that the final proposal is significantly different from the one that members of the public were consulted on.
The letter says the JHSC weren’t aware of significant changes to plan until July 12 – only eight days before their crunch decision was due – despite telling health chiefs in January they required a full report by the end of June.
They unexpected alterations included: the reduction of the Acre Mills hospital from 120 to 64 beds, moving more planned care to Calderdale, slashing 500 fewer jobs than first mooted, changes in the long term financial forecast, and news that only PFI funding was available.
On the bed reduction, it says the reasons have not been explained and the public have not been properly consulted.
It also raises fears that promises that a doctor would be present at the proposed urgent care centre at all times had been back-tracked on.
It says “real concerns” expressed by the public “should not be ignored.”
Councillors said they expected to receive a “suite of documents” from the clinical commissioning groups to address all their concerns with the plan but instead got a single document, the Full Business Case, from Calderdale and Huddersfield NHS Foundation Hospital Trust.
The JHSC also said it noted that 80% of the public were against the plan and said it questioned whether “sufficient weight had been given to the need and choice of local residents.”
It added: “The joint committee would also ask whether the decision to proceed with the proposals is consistent with NHS values which aim to put the needs of patients and communities first.”
Councillors also said they doubted plans to reduce “unplanned admissions” to hospitals by 18% were achievable.