We need your support to keep TheyWorkForYou running and make sure people across the UK can continue to hold their elected representatives to account.Donate to our crowdfunder
I thank my hon. Friend for his intervention, and I am aware of the position he sets out. He is absolutely right; these problems are happening elsewhere with the combination of CCGs coming together and not being able to meet the needs of the individual areas that are receiving the funding.
In Telford, the local hospital trust serving both Telford and Shropshire announced in January, after five years of bizarrely convoluted and contorted deliberation, that it was pleased to announce its investment of a total pot of £312 million in a state-of-the-art critical care unit in the leafy, affluent shire town of Shrewsbury in Shropshire, 19 miles away from Telford. In addition, the trust announced that it was pleased to say it would transfer Telford’s women and children’s unit and emergency care from Telford to Shropshire.
I have repeatedly asked the revolving door of hospital management over the past five years to explain how that proposal narrows health inequalities, how that decision improves the health outcomes of the most disadvantaged groups in the area they serve and how it improves health access for the most disadvantaged group if it is moving their provision 19 miles away from its current location.
The response to my questions over a significant period of time has been to take no notice whatever. As an MP I have found, and I know from talking to them that many colleagues have also found, that local hospital trusts and CCGs feel no obligation whatever to respond to or even take notice of elected representatives. Indeed, my right hon. Friend Sir Mike Penning noted in this place just last week, in an excellent debate on his local trust, that he had “absolutely no influence” on any decisions made by the CCG in his area.
As the Shrewsbury and Telford trust felt no obligation to respond to questions on this incredibly important issue, I asked the then Secretary of State if he could seek a response on my behalf. However, even that did not bring so much as an acknowledgement that reducing health inequalities is an important issue for the hospital trust or the CCG when making spending decisions.
The trust seems to feel entirely unaccountable to anyone. The Department of Health and Social Care says that it is accountable to NHS England, and NHS England says that the trust board is accountable to the trust chairman. In reality, there is no accountability. This subject has been raised with me over and over again by local residents who strongly oppose this reallocation of funding from a disadvantaged area to a more advantaged area.