Councillor Janet Battye reports on her work on the People’s Commission:
We’ve spent most of the last two days working on this: yesterday, we visited the local hospitals. I was only able to go on the visit to Huddersfield hospital in the morning (I know Calderdale Royal Infirmary rather better). We started with a guided tour of A and E, and a discussion with the consultant who explains how it works and what the dilemnas are. At 10.00am on a Wednesday morning, it seemed fairly calm and quiet. There seem to be two routes through: either accident or illness. The most acutely ill or injured are taken elsewhere – primarily to Leeds. Apparently with different sizes of population in Greater Huddersfield (240,000) and Calderdale (200,000), Calderdale people make greater use of A and E. The major problem is that of recruiting sufficient senior medical staff to run two A and E Departments (although they’re managed together by the Senior consultant we talked with). We were also taken to see the Paediatric Assessment Unit: both hospitals provide A and E services for children although the main paediatric services are in Halifax.
We started talking with the hospital Managers about the proposals in the Strategic Review and this carried on in the formal meetings of the People’s Commission. First up was a discussion with the GPs from the Clinical Commissioning Group and NHS England. They emphasised to us the importance of getting community services integrated and right first. In their view, there are other ways of providing hospital services other than the Acute Trust’s proposals which is why more work needs doing on them before any action is taken. The CCG purchase 90% of their hospital services from the Acute Trust (the rest are the most specialist services) so their relationship with the Acute Trust is important.
And then we spent an afternoon in the People’s Commission talking with the Acute Trust’s Chief Executive and Senior Managers. The question about whether we can see the “Outline Business Case” (ie their more detailed proposals about how they would like to provide services). It felt difficult (to me) to get clear answers from the Trust and I tried to press them on what their core business is. I think that their answer was District General hospital-type services and community health services (District Nurses, Schools Nurses etc). They had some visionary ideas about how health services can develop and be much more integrated with social care. A key question for us was about the future of Calderdale RI (and the PFI) and I’m not sure that was really answered. There was constant reference to no decisions having been taken about the Strategic Review, but their highest priority is patient safety.
We’re meeting next for two days in mid-November when we’re expecting to talk with Healthwatch, look at some information that local people have sent us, talk with more GPs, begin to pull issues out about health and social care in Calderdale, and shape recommendations.