Health bosses putting 'politics before patients' - The Redditch Standard

Health bosses putting 'politics before patients'

Redditch Editorial 30th Oct, 2014 Updated: 18th Oct, 2016   0

HEALTH bosses have been accused of putting politics before patients by delaying consultation on the reconfiguration of hospital services.

The Standard reported last week how proposals for the future of the Alexandra Hospital would not be put to the public until after next year’s General Election. The decision was made because a review of the clinical model behind the changes by West Midlands Clinical Senate will not report until January. That means public consultation could not be carried out until March, contravening the purdah convention that no significant policy decisions will be made or consulted on in the run up to an election.

But the decision has been criticised by some members of Worcestershire Acute Hospitals NHS Trust.

Non-executive director Bryan McGinity told a board meeting on Wednesday (October 29) purdah was designed to stop contentious decisions being made in the run up to an election or introducing decisions binding on the next administration and NHS England had been ‘overzealous’ in their interpretation of it.

“I don’t agree that any of this prevents us from going out to consultation. I think NHS England has overstated what the rules of purdah are.”

Prof Julian Bion, associate non-executive director, suggested the politics behind the decision should not have outweighed the benefits to patients of implementing the proposals.

“These political delays are harming patient safety, quality and the capacity of the Trust to deliver and I don’t think they are excusable.”

Programme director Lucy Noon said work was continuing on the project and they were hoping to get approval in February from NHS England to go out to public consultation, which would begin in early May as soon as the election was over.

“We have challenged this and asked for support and we were told it’s better not to go to consultation during this period.”

Chief executive Penny Venables said while the decision was disappointing it would be better to consult outside of the election period.

“When we do go to consultation it’s really important we hear what patients and their families think and do not get distracted during a time that inevitably will have a lot of political messages attached to it.”


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