Calderdale Lib Dems warned Labour not to sign up to disastrous hospital PFI deal

Calderdale and Huddersfield NHS Foundation Trust are looking to make savings, and possibly close the A&E department in Calderdale – this is a move we are strongly opposed to. A major factor contributing to the financial pressure the trust is facing result from crippling repayments of the PFI debt.  A Guardian source cites the total repayment of the scheme as £773.2m on a hospital that only cost £64.6m. In addition PFI ties the hospital into mad service charges such as being charged £85 to change a lightbulb etc.

“The capital cost of rebuilding Calderdale Royal Hospital in Yorkshire is £64.6m, the scheme will end up costing Calderdale and Huddersfield NHS Foundation Trust a total of £773.2m.”

Calderdale Liberal Democrats warned the last Labour government against signing up to this PFI scheme. Bob Heys and the late Stephen Pearson ran a major campaign against the PFI hospital contract in 2002 –  Stephen called it ‘Calderdale’s biggest ever scandal’. PFI was simply a way for Labour to increase off balance book borrowing, hiding the true extent of the debt that was being run up. Below is a copy of press stories at the time, where we warned Labour not to enter into this PFI scandal.

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We hate to say “we told you so” but….

The campaign setup by Calderdale Liberal Democrats was called Calderdale Concerned Citizens Group and there was a 1,000 name petition sent to Blair, including signatures from Councillors, Ex Councillors and Ex Mayors. However not a single Tory or Labour Councilor signed it despite efforts to encourage them to do so.

Calderdale Liberal Democrat’s warnings against this PFI scheme were ignored and we are now left with the consequences – a situation where Labour handed millions to bankers and financial companies and saddled us with debt. Just as the nation as a whole was crippled by Labour’s economic mismanagement, so to was our local NHS.

Calderdale Labour have run a systematic campaign of trying to blame the current problems faced by the Trust on ‘the cuts’ and the government. This is despite the 2012/13 annual financial report of the Trust stating “The Trust closed the year with a health cash balance of £33m and an operating surplus of £3.8, £0.8m ahead of plan”.  It is hard to argue cuts are solely to blame when the Trust is operating at a budget surplus. Labour need to stop trying to play the blame game, criticizing us in the press for not denouncing ‘the cuts’, and start seriously working on a cross-party basis to save our A&E

 

Giving local people a say on Hospital Closures

Over the past couple of days there has been much talk, and speculation about what impact ‘Clause 119’ of the Care Bill would have on hospital closures. Local Liberal Democrats wrote to Paul Burstow MP who due to put in amendment on the bill that would strengthen local people’s say in hospital closures:

“Like many places, we’ve facing changes and possibly closures in some of our health/hospital closures locally BUT it’s important that these are explained to local people, their views listened to and taken into account when decisions finally made. This process must be open, transparent and fair (good LibDem principles !) so I urge you to do your best for us all this afternoon when the Care Bill’s being debated/decided upon.”

This is the reply we received:

“I thought I should update you on what has happened.

I raised the concerns about the changes the Government was proposing to the way in which a hospital in serious financial or clinical trouble is handled in the NHS.  Trust special administration (TSA) as it is known was introduced by Labour in 2009.  It is a blunt process that should only ever be used in exceptional circumstances.

I argued that the starting point must be that decisions about the future of local health services are grounded in clinical evidence, supported by local clinicians and drawn up with the active involvement of local people.

As a result of raising the issues I have managed to get the Government to make some important concessions.  The amendment played a vital part in getting Ministers attention.

Today Ministers gave Parliament the assurance that everything possible will be done to help any potentially failing hospital to sort out their difficulties so that a TSA is only ever used in rare and extreme circumstances.

Following my lobbying Ministers have amended the Bill to strengthen public and patient involvement by the inclusion of local Healthwatch.  In addition local councils are being added for the first time too.  In the Lewisham case the local Council played a vital role in standing up for local people.

Also as a result of today TSAs will have to consult with NHS Trusts and their staff and with commissioners (CCGs) of any affected NHS organisations.

And as a result of the amendment Ministers have conceded that equal weight must be given to views of each involved Trust, staff  and commissioners.  Finally Ministers confirmed in response to my amendment that any TSA plan must have the agreement of ALL relevant commissioners.

When it came to pushing the amendment to the vote I had to make a fine judgement.  Having secured important changes and commitments from the Government I took the view that pushing the amendment to a vote ran the risk of defeat and sacrificing what the Government had offered.

That is not the end of the matter.  A cross party committee of MPs and Peers will be set up to agree the guidance to TSAs.  I will be chairing that Committee and I am keen, as we draw up the rules, to make sure the views of local clinicians and local people are heard.”

38 Degrees who have helped run a campaign bringing this important issue to people’s attention have said the following an email to their supporters:

“At first glance it seems that the government did make some positive changes. The challenge is working out whether they go far enough. The office team has asked legal experts to look at them. You’ll hear their verdict as soon as we get it.”

Calderdale Liberal Democrats will be pressing to make sure the positive changes announced by the Minister are followed through. We will be doing this by lobbying and supporting members of the Liberal Democrat Parliamentary party who are trying to ensure the are enacted.

 

Calderdale Liberal Democrats will fight to protect local A&E provision.

Calderdale Liberal Democrat have  stated that they are opposed to any decline in the quality of emergency care within Caldedale. The party has given its support to a motion passed by Calderdale Council that calls on all partners to work together to ensure continued, safe and appropriate access to 24-hour urgent and emergency care within Calderdale, in full consultation with the public.

Although the government has protected NHS funding, the Calderdale and Huddersfield NHS trust face a range of budgetary pressures arising from increasing costs of health care, appalling PFI contracts entered into, and demographic pressures.

For example, while the capital cost of rebuilding Calderdale Royal Hospital is £64.6m, the PFI scheme entered into will end up costing Calderdale and Huddersfield NHS Foundation Trust a total of £773.2m.

As a result of these pressures and a national report on the future of A&E services the local NHS trust has decided to review the shape of our unplanned emergency care service. At this stage no proposals have yet to been drawn up.

Cllr Janet Battye leader of the group said. “ We want to see the options coming out of the Strategic Review in the New Year with good opportunities for open and informed consultation and debate on them. We need top quality
local services that people can rely on, that means we also have to review them, modernise them, and make sure they meet our health needs. We will fight to protect, quality services for local people.”

The Lib Dem Parliamentary Candidate for Calder Valley Alistair McGregor said:” We would urge the Conservative and Labour parties to stop arguing over whose fault the PFI contracts are and start working on a cross party basis to ensure the NHS’ proposals meet the needs of local residents. We know the reckless borrowing and PFI schemes of the past are putting pressure on the services of today. The question is not whose fault that is but what we can do about it”