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.

good hope sign

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”.

16 Responses

  1. Tony Cannon says:

    As Chair of the Good Hope Patient/Carer Group and a member of the Stakeholder Group which was recruited by the trust last March to work with them on the SRG project I have a few observations to make.

    We all want to see a secure future for Good Hope Hospital but for that to happen we need to focus on facts not emotions.

    The meeting called by Andrew Mitchell on 23rd October was not a consultation event, I have a leaflet which describes it as a ‘Four Oaks Ward Meeting.’ HEFT were invited to attend by the MP and may well have been asked to contribute to the costs – this really is not relevant in my view. I was present at the meeting and took notes of what was said, apart from the statements by the Save Good Hope Group and Jack Dormey everything else was very much in line with comments made at the ‘Official Consultation Events’ in Sutton. Microphones were available in the hall so I would assume that the meeting was recorded by Andrew Mitchell’s people. It is their responsibility to produce a summary of what took place not HEFT.

    I am also sceptical of the claimed 5000 online petition signatures and I wonder if there has been any validation done before the figures were published by Councillor Pocock.

    It is not correct to say that the CCG’s had been neglected, they were fully briefed by the trust prior to new guidance being issued by NHS England which required them to lead such consultations – the facts are well known to Councillor Pocock so I am surprised to see that statement in this article.

    This is an ongoing process and I believe is part of the solution to the capacity problems which HEFT is facing. Our group and the other Patient Participation groups are working with the trust to achieve the best possible outcomes for all patients.

  2. save good hope local services says:

    It is disappointing that for the second time in less than a week, Tony Cannon has for some reason, chosen to attack our Campaign statements in the media.
    It is a pity, particularly as chair of the Patient/ Carer Group, that he is not more supportive of those campaigning to save key local services at Good Hope Hospital.
    Instead, yet again he has written what can at best be described as inaccurate nonsense. Added to that, he actually questions our honesty and integrity. Very surprising from someone in his position.
    He wrote, `We need to focus on facts’. That is exactly what we have done all along. Unfortunately, Mr. Cannon has not.
    We can only assume that he is very confused regarding the facts involved and that has caused him to write with great misunderstanding.
    Otherwise why else would he write in such a way as to mislead the public?
    We would like to clarify a few points here and the rest we are willing to explain to Mr. Cannon if he would like to contact us directly, which he has avoided doing regarding his statements above.
    The following link to last week’s Health Scrutiny Committee Meeting at Birmingham Council House re HEFT & our Campaign will openly expose the truth of what has been said and revealed:
    We have stated the absolute truth about the October 23rd Public Meeting, including HEFT’s obligation to record the event.
    Unbelievably, Mr. Cannon seems also to be accusing us of lying about the signatures! What sort of behaviour is that from someone in his position (again)?
    In fact, once more he demonstrates lack of real knowledge and understanding of the situation, as the huge majority of those signatures were obtained (and still are being) through the 38 Degrees Campaign Team with whom we work.
    Mr.Cannon however, is also firing shots at Councillor Pocock for some reason and misjudged him too.
    Please keep politics out of it Mr.Cannon and concentrate on helping the Hospital.
    We would like to request of Mr.Cannon that perhaps he could make the effort to work together with other groups, (including ours) who very much care about and try to help Good Hope, for the benefit of patients and staff, rather than act so antagonistically towards them.
    If he truly wants to `achieve the best possible outcomes for all patients’ then he will watch the recording of last week’s vital meeting carefully and if he still needs further explanation, perhaps he would kindly contact us for help? We are willing to oblige.

  3. Cllr David Barrie says:

    I’ve read all the above and attended several of the consultations. But I am at a loss to know what ‘save good hope local services’ actually propose instead. I think its pretty clear that things cannot stay as they are bearing in mind the increasing degree of specialization in the NHS. There’s a lot of positives in the proposals after all, and patients already have to travel for some treatments. All we hear is criticism of the process, but no positive input.

  4. Tony Cannon says:

    The campaign group seem to be under the impression that their assertions should not be scrutinised or questioned. I am not a politician and have no intention of becoming one. It is interesting see such statements as keep out of politics etc. I was not aware that the SRG programme was a political issue. Councilor Pocock briefed me on the requirements for the petition to set up a ‘Sutton Town Council’ and I was merely asking if he had satisfied himself that your petition met the same standards. I am very familiar with 38 degrees having worked with them myself – what puzzles me is that there are 2 petitions on the website. one of which is closed with 2162 signatures and another which is current with 1374 signatures. It is not unreasonable to inquiry what validation procedure has been followed.
    I am happy to meet with you as you know based on our previous email exchanges, the Good Hope Patient/Carer Group is also open for anyone to join who has been a patient or a carer of a patient at the hospital in the last two years.
    Finally I am surprised at the personal nature of your comments, I have studied the webcast but have a different interpretation of what took place – this is my right in a free country.

  5. save good hope local services says:

    Once more Mr. Cannon unfortunately shows great misunderstanding, misjudgement and unfounded criticism which is a shame as we have politely offered to correspond with him.
    He needs to look at the impression created by the content and tone of what he has written and not try to provoke an argument.
    For clarification purposes: the e mail exchanges to which he is referring only refer to a couple in August of this year, when we accepted an invitation to attend a Patient/ Carer meeting, where Trust officials held a presentation about their proposed `changes’.
    Mr. Cannon made it clear then that he totally disagreed with our Campaign and he has NOT contacted us since.
    As requested in the earlier post, we welcome contact by Mr.Cannon, but he still seems to be talking to us through his media statements!

  6. Tony Cannon says:

    I have agreed to meet with Rob Pocock in January to discuss the proposals in more detail – if he is willing I am happy for it to be a joint meeting with your campaign lead.

  7. Rob Pocock says:

    Mr Cannon and Councillor Barrie seem unduly relaxed about the HEFT surgery proposals. If they really are such a good idea, I wonder why I keep getting staff and senior clinicians coming to me in states of despair at what is going on. And why do so many residents feel unable to trust what is being proposed and how it is being communicated. Why is there so much confusion about the consultation process (which was suddenly now re-named at the Joint Scrutiny Committee last week as just a ‘pre-consultation’). Why is everyone utterly mystified about the status of the HEFT-funded public meeting on 23rd October entitled “Public Meeting – Good Hope Hospital and local health care provision, come and listen to the proposals and discuss them” which we now find was not recorded by HEFT, comments not noted or included in the consultation by HEFT, and not fed into the consultation by the MP’s office? Did people totally waste their time in attending and making comments? Is this really the way to make people feel confident in those running the show?

    Now, after all the time and effort that has been put in, why do we suddenly find out at the Joint Scrutiny, in a debate that only took place because of the relentless efforts of the petitioners who are battling to support Good Hope, that a whole new round of formal consultation will have to take place again next summer? And does anyone have any idea how that will be carried out or how people can take part?

    This is an awful lot of unanswered questions. The public is right to be concerned and wary of what is going on. If anyone thinks this is the right way to go about reorganising major surgery services, they need to think again.

  8. Tony Cannon says:

    Not sure if ‘relaxed’ is the right description, I am supportive of the HEFT Team who are working under great pressure to find solutions to some pretty ‘intractable’ problems. However I would not want to be accused of being ‘antagonistic’ or seeking to provoke an argument so I will reserve the rest of my comments for my face to face meeting with Councillor Pocock in January.

  9. Cllr David Barrie says:

    I don’t think its unreasonable of anyone to ask the campaign group involved and indeed my colleague Cllr Pocock, what alternative proposals they bring to the table. I suspect most people are now totally bored with the constant carping about the consultation and just want their concerns addressed. Thats what I expect and will be pressing for.

  10. Richard says:

    I think it is unreasonable to expect those not involved with HEFT to come forward with alternative proposals.

    What is reasonable is the expectation of a proper consultation – not the presentation of a done deal which is what this looks like. HEFT are really only consulting (in the sense of listening to views and being prepared to shift their position) on the details like patient transport where the lack of solid proposals is striking.

  11. Stewart Cotterill says:

    There has been no independent verification that this “specialisation” of services is needed. All we have are assertions from people who want them to go ahead. This feels like yet another NHS reorganisation which have been proven in the past to not be beneficial to patients.

    You would have also thought that those who proposed the plans would have had as their first item on the agenda the issue of travel and yet only after pressure from Save Good Hope Local Services is the issue being dealt with. Sutton Coldfield to Heartlands Hospital is a terrible journey with traffic black spots throughout. Twenty per cent of the population of Sutton are pensioners and therefore a thorough independent (and I do mean independent) review of travel from Sutton Coldfield to Heartlands Hospital by public transport and private vehicle needs to be carried out.

    I think it is also remiss of councillors to suggest that the general public should be coming up with suggestions as to what is best in this situation. Perhaps the Trust should come up with a set of proposals, not just a fait accompli. Many people have pressures of full time work and families which means they don’t have the opportunity to set out a full costed proposal for a multi million pound reorganisation of an NHS Trust, but this does not mean they should just accept a proposal if they don’t believe it is right.

    After all, it is the public who pay for these hospitals and their staff, and it is the public who should be listened to, and if they don’t agree with the proposals, the proposals should be reviewed again until there is a general acceptance of them, not ploughed ahead with regardless.

  12. Tony Cannon says:

    I would just like to point out that there is a body of evidence which supports the specialisation of surgical services and if Mr Cotterill would like to attend a consultation event he could reassure himself on this point.

  13. Stewart Cotterill says:

    I would ask who that evidence has been formulated by?

  14. Tony Cannon says:

    Professor Matthew Cooke at HEFT is the person to ask and he normally attends the Consultation Events. If you want to back this up with your own research just Google “Surgical Centres of Excellence” and start from there. You could also ask the Royal College of Surgeons for some background.

  15. Stewart Cotterill says:

    Isn’t it incumbent on the NHS Trust to provide independent evidence on the proposed changes, rather than expect members of the public to do so?

    This should have been one of the first things the Trust should have done before starting this process, as basing their decisions on independent evidence is the only proper way to go. To find evidence which ‘fits’ what they want to do doesn’t provide any validity to what the Trust are trying to achieve.

  16. Tony Cannon says:

    The next Consultation Event is on the Wednesday 4th February at the Ramada Jarvis, Penns Lane, Warmley. There will be three sessions 10:00am, 1:00pm & 6:00pm why not come along and address your concerns to the Trust directly.

    Personally I am satisfied that ‘Surgical Centres of Excellence’ produce better outcomes for patients and I would seek one out should I or any member of my family require a procedure.