Monday 29 October 2012

NHS NW London spent £7million on Shaping a Healthier Future "consultation"

NHS NW London spent seven million pounds on the Shaping a Healthier Future consultation. £7,000,000!

How they could have spent so much, money that could have been used to improve our health services, is hard to imagine. Gold plated paper clips?

The consultation itself was seriously flawed. Documents in languages other than English were not available until relatively late in the consultation process. The "roadshows" resembled public relations exercises, designed to sell an idea rather than any serious attempt to find out what ordinary people need and expect from our health service.

The context of the proposed changes - the implementation of the Health and Social Care Act and the merger of NW London Hospitals and Ealing Hospital trust - was ignored. There are now serious questions about whether the hospitals that will be left after the proposed cull will be able to cope.

The draft report produced for the final meeting of the Joint Health Overview and Scrutiny Committee of the affected boroughs was extremely critical of the consultation. It said:

We are however not convinced that the specific proposals presented by NHS NW London are supported in their current form, without significant clarification on significant issues. There are several primary reasons, these are:

  • Key elements of the plans remain opaque;
  • Information about the future shape of services for patients is absent;
  • Measurable outcomes for the proposals are underdeveloped;
  • Impact on local populations and groups with protected characteristics have not been developed in sufficient detail;
  • Key risks have either been underestimated or mitigations not identified or shared;
  • The proposals have been driven by a desire to move care out of tariff;
  • The consultation process has not been fit for purpose.
In addition there are a number of secondary reasons

  • There is insufficient evidence of ownership by key partners and by staff;
  • Critical workforce issues have been underappreciated;
  • There is insufficient evidence of alignment across health and social care system.
The  report also says, "There is an underlying sense of both immediate threat and unhelpful manipulation in these arguments which clouds an objective assessment of what might actually be the end result for patients over a realistic timescale." and "But our concerns about the consultation process are more fundamental than timing. We question the underlying approach and the extent to which this has had the feel or a marketing exercise rather than a properly conducted consultation exercise." Also (as well as a great many other criticisms, "There has been far too little engagement of staff and their representatives about the proposed changes." "A key concern is that virtually nothing of any significance about the proposals has altered over the nine months of development and engagement. This is not a sign of the strength of the proposals but an indication that a top-down, un-engaging process has been running."

Seven million pounds for a flawed, top-down, un-engaging consultation that was not fit for purpose. Seven million pounds that could have been spent on health care for local people.

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