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Hospital closures voted through despite over 1000 objections

Cllr Sonia Barker's statement to the Gt Yarmouth and Waveney Joint Health Scrutiny Committee, delivered Friday 13th November 2015.

Mr. Chairman thanks

I am speaking here today as a Waveney District  & Suffolk County Councillor for Pakefield, as Leader of the Waveney Labour Group, a former NHS employee. Remembering my  late mother who only found the diagnosis and care for her cancer at the GP Unit at Northgate after a major struggle by her family to find her a bed.

I went to two of the 'Consultation' evenings at Halesworth & Southwold where many questions were asked and some were answered. I also attended the Gt Yarmouth & Waveney Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG) Governing Body meeting at their HQ in Beccles last week to hear the CCG vote unanimously to make the following recommendations to their Steering Group for Implementation.

  • Closure of the GP Community Beds at All Hallows Hospital Bungay (this does not mean the closure of the Hospital)

  • Change in the use of Beccles Hospital

  • Closure of the GP Unit at Northgate Hospital Gt. Yarmouth

  • Closure of the Patrick Stead Hospital Halesworth

  • Closure of the Southwold Hospital*  (*Already temporarily closed due to safety for patient concerns)

Andy Evans, Chief Executive of the Gt Yarmouth & Waveney CCG, said at the meeting that the above mentioned actions will only occur once the following are up and running:

  • NHS funded beds with care will be provided in local nursing and residential homes and these will be provided to NHS quality & safety standards and will be closely monitored

  • Out of hospital teams will be based in new community hubs across the area.

  • The CCG will work with local providers to make sure services are tailored to the needs of the local population

  • The CCG will work with local providers to make sure staff are appropriately supported throughout the changes.

I have serious concerns about the accountability of those taking such momentous decisions on behalf of the residents of Gt Yarmouth & Waveney:

Firstly, we do live in a democracy and yet those who are taking these decisions on the CCG are not elected to office and cannot be removed by a vote of the residents of Gt. Yarmouth & Waveney if the plans they propose do not work.  Which is why the role of the Gt. Yarmouth & Waveney Health Scrutiny Committee is so crucial in this case.

Secondly during the meeting the Chair of the CCG said before the vote was taken that 'he was not going to let 2.4% of the population of Gt. Yarmouth & Waveney undermine the changes that were needed'

I now quote from  the papers tabled at the meeting of the CCG last week:

Community Hospitals – Proposal 2:  There was strong support for retaining GP community hospital beds in all four of the hospitals with c56% disagreeing with the proposal to close these hospital beds.  It is felt that these hospitals are needed.  There was support for the proposal to change the use of beds at Beccles hospital.  However there was also concern that these would not be enough and that the location was too remote for many.”

So on their own evidence the majority of the people who responded to the 'consultation' were against the closures voted for last week. In other words the Chair and the CCG Group were totally dismissive of the objections of all the people who attended the 'consultation' and also those who wrote in to register their concerns.

In addition the 'option appraisal workshop' held  on the 13th October, 2015  was quoted a lot last week as evidence of support of the CCG proposals and yet if the membership of the workshop is scrutinised it is hardly representative

42 attendees to the workshop – only one was an elected member  from WDC who has responsibility for health – where was the reflection of the community that the Gt. Yarmouth & Waveney CCG purports to serve and represent.  The CCG should be leading on `joined up health and social care' yet where were the Social workers, the nurses, the physios, the occupational therapists & mental health workers and their input?

Finally I would ask the Gt. Yarmouth & Waveney Health Scrutiny Committee to scrutinize the following:

  • To whom is the Gt. Yarmouth & Waveney CCG accountable?

  • How democratic was its decision making last week?

  • Was the decision making based on evidence?

  • How will a privately run local nursing and residential home be accountable to patients locally and the NHS.

  • What if the local nursing and residential home closes,  which NHS service locally takes up the patients if the hospital serving that area is already closed?

  • Southwold Hospital is already closed due to the destabilising effect on staff of the 'consultation'. How long will it take for a local 'hub' service to be set up to serve patients in Southwold?

  • Will patients from Gt. Yarmouth find that they are placed in residential homes far from their family or to Beccles where beds are located?

  • Why is there a lack of projected information on the proposed hospital beds needed by 2025 to prepare for  an increasing elderly population in the Gt. Yarmouth & Waveney area.

  • There will be a difficulty in accessing patients in their own homes from 'hubs' in a rural setting, and increasing problems attracting the qualified staff needed to Waveney (in rural areas) for the proposed changes to work. How will this be addressed by the CCG?

  • What risk assessment has been undertaken to assess these proposals.

  • Finally and the biggest question of all how much money will be saved by enacting the proposed changes agreed by the Gt. Yarmouth & Waveney CCG last week.

Thanks for listening.

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