All-party support for more scrutiny of NHS handover
COMMUNITY leaders, politicians and the public insist they want changes to the NHS to be scrutinised – but it leaves a transfer of thousands of staff in legal limbo.
Stroud District Council has sent a message to health chiefs telling them they were rushing the transfer of many non-acute services and 3,000 staff from the NHS to a Community Interest Company (CIC).
At an extraordinary council meeting on Wednesday evening, politicians from all parties backed a resolution, which demanded "proper scrutiny" from Gloucestershire's Health, Community and Care Overview and Scrutiny Committee (HCCOSC).
The message to the NHS and HCCOSC said that there were major concerns over the transfer to Gloucestershire Care Services. NHS services were due to be transferred to the CIC tomorrow.
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But an 11th hour legal challenge, fronted by 75-year-old Michael Lloyd, could stop it in its tracks.
HCCOSC chairman Stephen McMillan said his committee is listening and scrutinising.
However, he said the committee's hands are tied to some extent because its remit is to scrutinise service change rather than organisational change.
"We are on the case," he said.
"It was examined at our last meeting and we decided at this time to let the NHS go forward with its plans.
"We are keeping a watching brief – where service changes as a result, we will be on the case."
On Tuesday, Gloucestershire Care Services staff were sent a letter telling them the legal challenge could hold up the transfer.
It warned that the challenge could accelerate private firms' bidding for NHS contracts.
"If taken to its logical conclusion the challenge would mean that community services would be competitively tendered with the result that bodies both within and outside the NHS sector could respond," the letter said.
But campaigners don't believe that is the case.
"Our understanding is that this will not put it out to other groups outside the NHS family," said Stroud Labour party chairman Steve Lydon.
NHS Gloucestershire declined to offer further comment but stood by a previous statement that it had followed all applicable policy and guidance in deciding the future of community services.