West Norfolk patients’ group lodges health body complaint

Health bosses will need to make 230 million worth of cuts over the next five years - but it's long-term plans appear to mask job losses and mergers.
Health bosses will need to make 230 million worth of cuts over the next five years - but it's long-term plans appear to mask job losses and mergers.

Patients’ representatives at a West Norfolk surgery have made a formal complaint against health chiefs, who they say havenot properly addressed their service concerns.

The dispute follows a meeting between patients’ groups, local MPs and representatives of the area’s clinical commissioning group (CCG) last month.

The CCG says most of the issues raised were discussed in the session and insists it will continue to engage with the public.

But members of the patient participation group (PPG) at the Hollies surgery in Downham say they were “dismayed and frustrated” by the CCG’s stance.

The complaint, submitted in the name of its chairman, Elaine Berger, said: “I am now left with no alternative but to ask, on behalf of my fellow PPG members and myself that this matter be investigated independently as a formal complaint.”

It also asks for “full and detailed” written answers to all of the questions put to the CCG at the meeting.

The PPG says it tabled five main questions about the potential impact of around £80 million worth of savings which it believes will need to be found as part of current work on a sustainability and transformation plan for the area.

The complaint alleges that three of them were not addressed, and described the response to a fourth as a “smoke-and-mirrors exercise”.

It also claims that the CCG is breaking the law by not holding a public consultation on the restructuring.

A CCG spokesman said yesterday: “West Norfolk CCG welcomes discussions with patients and members of the community and feels it has answered and continues to answer the many questions which have been put to it about local health services.

“It was our understanding after a meeting lasting an hour-and-a-half that we had covered much of what we had been asked to speak about.

“Other issues were raised, which we tried to answer or will be happy to answer as we continue to meet with patient participation groups and their representatives in the future.”

The CCG has also rejected suggestions that access to emergency care could be restricted in future.

A national newspaper report this week said the Norfolk and Waveney sustainability and transformation plan proposed a 20 per cent reduction in emergency admissions.

But the CCG said its plans to enable more people to be treated in the community would prevent a further 20 per cent rise in hospital admissions.

The spokesman added: “It is a reality that we must continue to make efficiencies to make our finite budget stretch to cover rising costs.”

But the PPG said: “We have worked constantly to protect the local health services and the welfare of our many thousands of fellow patients.

“We will continue to challenge, and if necessary, oppose any measures that undermine or threaten those services.”