Sutton Coldfield Councillor unhappy with HEFT consultation process
On Wednesday 10 December representatives of the Sutton Coldfield group Save Good Hope Hospital Local Services and Sutton Vesey councillor Dr Rob Pocock had the opportunity to put their concerns over plans to move services to Trust officials at Birmingham City Council’s Health Scrutiny Committee Meeting.
Krys Deegan, Lucy Szambir and Cllr Pocock each presented their comments and questions to the committee with particular focus on the consultation process.
The public meeting held with Sutton Coldfield MP Andrew Mitchell on 23 October was a particularly contentious issue. As the meeting was arranged by Mr Mitchell and did not form part of the official consultation no minutes were taken and the concerns of those present were unrecorded by the trust.
However, it was claimed by Krys Deegan that email evidence showed that the Heart of England Foundation Trust had not only funded the meeting but had stated they would take onboard patient’s views. This, suggested the group representative, meant that HEFT were connected with the meeting and that the strong opposition presented should be taken into consideration… “How do we know that the trust is not picking and choosing which patient’s opinions they are actually going to publish?” she asked.
A lack of clarity over the process and the “ever changing picture” has, according to Cllr Pocock, also fuelled mistrust to the point where very few people are engaging with HEFT compared to the online petition which has attracted 5,000 signatures.
Regarding the consultation he went on to say:
“First we have informal discussions within the hospital over a year ago that were supposed to be private but were splashed over the Sutton Coldfield Observer with the Trust giving no clue as to what was behind it. This prompted residents to raise their concerns and for a while I was involved in various meetings with the Trust and hospital managers that were apparently leading to a constructive joint public meeting in the spring to explore the options, only for this to be mysteriously cancelled at the last minute – further fuelling public suspicions of the process going on. The consultation process itself had to be revised again in the summer when it became apparent that the CCGs aspect had been neglected – again you may wish to comment further on that.
“Next we had a consultation procedure launched during the autumn involving a highly controversial decision of the Trust to fund a public meeting in October organised by the Sutton Coldfield MP, but without any clarity as to whether this was or was not part of the formal consultation process. If Trust money is being used to fund it, then surely it is part of the official consultation and the comments made at that meeting should be noted by the Trust and logged in the audit of comments received through the consultation. However we are told that no such notes were taken by the Trust and that the MP’s office might have some if we try and ask them. This is utterly ridiculous. The status of that meeting, and of all the comments made at it, remains shrouded in mystery.
Once again, it just serves to undermine public confidence in the integrity and transparency of the whole consultation process. And in view of that, Chair, we would suggest your Committee should ask to receive a full documented record of all the consultation evidence taken during the formal process, so that it is transparent to your Committee exactly what has been taken into consideration in following up the concerns that have been raised during the consultation.”
A full transcript of Cllr Pocock’s presentation is available here: GHH-HEFT-Petition-Presentation-101214
To view the meeting in full, including the response from HEFT, visit the Birmingham City Council Webcast at:
At the conclusion of the meeting Cllr Pocock told Sutton Coldfield Local:
“I was pleased we got the concerns of Sutton and Erdington residents across to this important Health Scrutiny Committee. We received a fair hearing, and it was recognised that a lot more work needs to be done before any final decision is made.
“The Trust have accepted that their most pressing concern must be swift action to get waiting times down, and the ideas about surgery changes are a much longer job. A proper, full-scale, legally solid consultation about surgery will now be run again, but not till later next summer 2015. This will give time for public concerns to be given more consideration, and we can only hope this further consultation will avoid the problems that have so bedevilled the process over the past year.
The campaigners who have raised the petition should be congratulated for keeping the pot boiling – they have won more time and helped make sure nothing is going to be steam-rollered through without further proper scrutiny”.