Reality bites

It’s been a busy few weeks – my role as Clinical Lead (and therefore Chair) of the NHS North Kirklees Clinical Commissioning Group has been confirmed and I’ve experienced my first uncomfortable taste of ‘trial by media’.

The CCG stands accused of ‘stabbing local people in the back’ over the ongoing debate about Mid Yorkshire NHS Hospitals Trust’s (MYHT) efforts to balance its budget and maintain local hospital services. NHS North Kirklees and NHS Wakefield CCGs are reported to be ‘supporting’ the Trust’s Option B proposals which could see Dewsbury and District Hospital’s A&E department changed to a more cost effective urgent care centre.

So, to try to set the record straight:

No decisions have been made yet, but we realise that doing nothing is not an option. If we don’t support the Trust in its attempts to balance the books and deliver clinically safe services, we will face the prospect of a Government appointed team coming in and doing what it thinks best – the local voice and influence will be lost.

My colleagues and I care very much about the NHS and local people’s health, which is why we became GPs, we stood for selection to the CCG and choose to work with the MYHT to get the best possible solutions. That’s why you will see us at public meetings discussing the case for change and what that change might look like.

It’s a very complex situation: there isn’t enough money; there aren’t enough experienced clinicians to go round and the way the NHS delivers services has altered hugely over the past few years, but hospitals haven’t. This all leads to the problems we currently face.

We realise that changing where and how services are delivered is immensely worrying for local people who feel that life-saving services are being cut or rationed. We will not support any proposal to close Dewsbury and District Hospital, but there will have to be changes to make sure the local NHS can deliver the safe, effective services the people who live within the Mid Yorkshire NHS Hospitals Trust area deserve.

Only when we (and a national clinical safety organisation) are absolutely certain that the Trust’s proposals will deliver what we believe is best for our patients, will we offer our support. We will then take part in the formal consultation process to make sure everyone understands what the proposals mean locally and why change is necessary. I don’t expect that formal consultation process to happen until next year.

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