HEALTH bosses have been slammed over ‘slippery management-speak’ and a ‘chaotic’ consultation over massive changes to the NHS in Oxfordshire.
Oxfordshire Clinical Commissioning group was hauled before representatives of the Oxfordshire Health Overview and Scrutiny committee on Thursday to answer questions on how it had consulted on its ‘sustainability and transformation plan’ (STP), as well as changes on the horizon the public has not been allowed to see.
To applause from the room, Keep Our NHS Public campaigner Veronica Treacher said: “There’s a crisis in democracy occurring.
“Under the instruction of NHS England, the STP plan remains largely secret. It has been termed extra-legislative reform.This has been a transformation - from questionable public accountability to no public accountability at all.”
Oxfordshire CCG has been working with six others in Buckinghamshire and Berkshire West to produce a tri-county plan to overhaul the way the NHS is delivered across the area.
It aims to address the needs of an ageing population and staffing issues and avoid a £2.5bn black hole in the budget by 2020/21.
Phase one of the Oxfordshire arm of the STP, which includes closing 200 acute hospital beds and centralising stroke and critical care, is being consulted on now.
But the full plan has not formally been published and current efforts to engage with the public in Oxfordshire were lambasted.
Ian Davies of Chipping Norton Hospital Action Group said the 11 public events arranged by the CCG had been ‘chaotically organised’.
He said: “First our meeting was to be held in Guildhall, which will hold about 10 people, then the town hall, which would be cabaret-style and you had to register to attend.
“There was little hope of advertising the meeting.
"People are totally confused about what’s happening. How can we have a full and proper phase one debate?”
OCCG chief executive David Smith said: “We are running a series of different meetings, of different formats and at different times, across the whole of the county.
“They are not the only way of communicating with us. There’s the website, the survey, and what’s coming through on Facebook and Twitter.”
Councillors also asked how much people will be told about the STP for Berkshire West, Oxfordshire and Buckinghamshire. It is due to come into effect in mid-2017.
It was also revealed STP authors from across the three counties could be jointly responsible for commissioning some health services in Oxfordshire in the future.
Mr Smith said specialist services such as cancer, diabetes and mental health had ‘far better outcomes’ if dealt with across county borders.
HOSC chairwoman Yvonne Constance said: “If this is a non-statutory body, why does it need an executive board, a commissioning executive and an oversight board?
“If a decision comes from the regional level would you be able to decide on a local level if you are to go along with it?
“Where does compliance sit? What about debts or overruns? If you are reinventing the regional health authority, we want to know that.”
Mr Smith said that STP and the bodies that created it were ‘here to stay’ and were ‘not going away’’, adding that Oxfordshire was ‘not an island’.
But he added: “There’s not going to be some sort of wholesale reorganising of the NHS and we are not discussing pooling all the budget. The money will come to individual CCGs.”
Phase one of the consultation is open until April 9.
To get involved visit tinyurl.com/gkvjntd