Stroud Against Cuts has seen a letter from the head of the South West Strategic Health Authority which states that Cllr Gravells (then chair of the Health Overview and Scrutiny Committee or HOSC) told the NHS bosses last summer that they didn’t need to bother consulting us in relation to the transfer of our hospitals, nurses and therapists out of the NHS and into a Social Enterprise Trust (SET).
They have also discovered that the County Council has a legal responsibility to scrutinise significant changes to our health care (through the Health Overview and Scrutiny Committee) but that they have not done this properly. The failure to scrutinise this process comes in contrast to the way they DID scrutinise much SMALLER decisions about health provision, and previous close scrutiny of a similar plan to transfer Stroud Hospital to a social enterprise a few years back, which resulted in that plan being roundly rejected by councillors.
The Health and Overview Scrutiny Committee meets on 20th September, 10.15 am. This meeting is open to the public and Cheltenham Against Cuts encourages concerned residents to attend.
Questions from public can only be posed with the Chair’s permission. Supportive councillors are currently trying to get the council to address these questions, but they are resisting.
In the mean time we encourage everyone to urgently contact the current Chair of the Health and Overview Scrutiny Committee (firstname.lastname@example.org) and ask the following questions (and please forward any responses you get to us at email@example.com). You could also copy in your local county councillor, see here for contact details. If you prefer to telephone (maybe more immediate) this link also has telephone numbers.
Ask the county councillors –
“With relation to the creation of a Social Enterprise Trust to replace the Gloucestershire Community Trust could you address the following points,
There does not appear to be any reference to when the formal decision to set up a SET was taken in the minutes of the NHS Gloucestershire Board or GCC HOSC. There is no indication who took this decision and on the basis of what advice or what alternatives offered. There is reference to a meeting in DEC 2010 but no agenda can be found and there are no minutes of a December meeting of the NHS Board
Has the NHS Board of Gloucestershire made a formal notification of the creation of a Social Enterprise Trust to replace the Gloucestershire Community Trust and has the HOSC formally decided not to scrutinise the decision? If so when was this notification made and where can the minutes be found?
It is recommended that HOSC consider changes to services based on ‘substantial variation and substantial development’.
Overview and Scrutiny of Health – Guidance 10.6.1 on ‘substantial variation and substantial development’ recommends that “local NHS bodies should aim to reach a local understanding or definition with their overview and scrutiny committees. Has such an understanding been reached and what legal advice on the definition did HOSC take in any decision that the creation of a Social Enterprise Trust was not a substantial variation.
There are many other PCTs in a similar situation across the country, in determining that a SET was the best way forward for Gloucestershire what evidence did HOSC receive on the proposals of other NHS Trusts?
HOSC is the democratic protection for the community, it would appear that HOSCs statutory duty to ensure that changes to the provision of our health care are properly scrutinised has not been excercised in this case. This can still be rectified, HOSC still has the opportunity to consider this matter, to request of the board and indeed the Secretary of State that the date of Oct 1st be extend to allow proper scrutiny.