Campaign group question MP’s appropriateness to chair Good Hope services public meeting
On February 18 2014 Sutton Coldfield Local reported how the people behind the group, Campaign To Save Services At Good Hope Hospital, were left angry and dismayed when a public meeting with health chiefs to be held in March was called off.
The meeting, designed to give locals a chance to have their say regarding the diminishing of valued clinical services at the hospital, was cancelled after hospital bosses spoke with Sutton Coldfield MP Andrew Mitchell.
Although the reason for the cancellation was never really made clear the fact that Mr Mitchell was initially unaware of the public meeting implies he had not made space for it in his diary.
Since then, the group has continued campaigning and last Friday (August 15) representatives presented a petition with around 2000 signatures to Number 10 Downing Street.
A new date for the public meeting originally set for March has now also been confirmed for October 23. However, there does not appear to have been any consultation with the Campaign To Save Services At Good Hope Hospital regarding this date as they only became aware when it was published in the Sutton Coldfield Observer.
To add to their understandable frustration the paper went on to give the impression that the campaigners knew about the date by reporting a quote in a second piece immediately below that confirming the date. The quote, said to have been given by Krystyna Deegan, included the line “They’ve (The Trust) only just given a date”. A quote that the group flatly deny giving.
In addition to announcing the date Mr Mitchell also confirmed that he will be chairing the meeting, something the campaigners have questioned due to a possible conflict of interest.
The HEFT document, which outlines the proposed changes, refers to MP and councillor engagement in the formulation of that document which the group believe implies that it was produced with their consultation and cooperation.
The Sutton Coldfield Observer article certainly gives the impression that Mr Mitchell has made up his mind that services will go and that the meeting is one of reassurance that the changes will not adversely affect the health care of the people of the town rather than an opportunity for users of the services to give their views prior to any final decision.
A spokesperson for the campaign told Sutton Coldfield Local:
“The first part of our petition was successfully delivered to Downing Street last Friday, 15th August. We had a fantastic day!
“The first aim has been therefore achieved thank God, of a date for a public meeting having finally been announced, after much campaigning.
“However, very importantly, our petition is still in fact `live’, as there are other issues within it that still need resolving.
“These can be found on our petition site online (https://you.38degrees.org.uk/petitions/save-good-hope-s-local-services).
“The running total (including online and on paper is nearly 2,300, which is amazing! But we still need more. Therefore, we urge anyone who has not yet signed, to please do so. Thank you”
They went on to confirmed that they have made there concerns regarding the independence of the chair known and has yet have not received a satisfactory reply.
A request from the group was also made to the trust and to Andrew Mitchell to have an official speaker from the group at the public meeting. This has apparently been indirectly denied with a statement that the chair will ensure that those who wish to speak at the meeting will be able to do so.