Friday, 25 June 2010

Letter to the Health Overview and Scrutiny Committee

Dear Councillor Jones

1. Agenda Item 7 of your June 29th Health OSC claims that the “Cabinet and PCT Board have agreed the guiding principles for our joint work” on borough-based commissioning.
According, however, to the June 16th agenda papers of SW London’s Joint PCT, NHS Richmond has already “delegated” its key strategic functions to this body, which is claiming the specific authority to “approve strategic and operating plans for the sector, incorporating sector priorities including services, finance, workforce etc”.

It is too early to ask whether this Joint PCT has approved Richmond’s plans and principles, but why should it have to do so? Why can’t NHS Richmond speak for the NHS in our borough?

The reason seems to be an NHS directive issued in September ’09 called the Whole System Development Programme, ostensibly and publicly to review A&E services in the sector’s hospitals, but in fact to cover “all community and primary activity”, including “Polysystems Out of Hospital Care, Community Services, social care, Mental Health.”

A SW London sector approach to A&E services through its Acute Commissioning Unit is understandable, but it is inappropriate for community health and social care services, and adds to what the last administration called the “democratic deficit.” Your Health OSC is asked to make its position clear to NHS Richmond on this issue, as it did on its abortive meeting of June 14th.
2. Kingston is successfully progressing with its Social Enterprise for community health services with completion date expected in August. Can Richmond receive an NHS report on Kingston’s expectations with this initiative?

3. I was sorry to see, in this first meeting of the new Health OSC, there was no agenda item for public participation. I hope to be present.

Yours sincerely

Francis King

Friday, 4 June 2010

NHS London and Strategic Health Authority Resignation

The Editor, Richmond & Twickenham Times

You reported last week on the resignation of Sir Richard Sykes, Chairman of NHS London, its Strategic Health Authority, “following a change of Government policy” – and the effect this is likely to have on the clinical review now being undertaken on the A&E and maternity services at Kingston Hospital.

But this major change, announced by Health Secretary, Andrew Lansley in the May 21st Telegraph, applies to community health services just as much as it does to hospital services.

The Health Secretary has ordained a “halt on the current process” and “a complete change in the way we (the NHS) deal with these issues, (such as) closures and reconfigurations” – so as to allow, among other criteria “genuine engagement with the public, patients and local authorities”.

It therefore has to be considered that the “externalisation” of Hounslow and Richmond Community Healthcare, and its “alignment” with some remote hospital or mental health trust, is one of those current processes on which a halt has to be called – and that this will be made clear at the Stakeholder Event” NHS Richmond has planned for June 7th.

It is also to be hoped that Sir Richard’s will be the last of the NHS resignations arising from this change of Government policy and practice.

Yours sincerely

Francis King