Councillor Jim Clark, Chairman of North Yorkshire Scrutiny of Health Committee, considers this month will be one of the most crucial in the history of the National Health Service in our area due to the publication of two major reports.
The first report will be from management consultants KPMG on the future delivery of health care in our area in an attempt to realise savings of over £75m to return the health service in North Yorkshire and York to “a stable financial footing”.
Indications are that there may be radical changes to services provided at acute and district hospitals across North Yorkshire with the loss of many hospital beds.
Last month the County Council overwhelmingly supported a motion proposed by Councillor Clark stating that threatened cuts to essential services were unacceptable.
The second report is the long awaited Francis Report – the public enquiry into the failings which resulted in the unnecessary deaths of hundreds of patients at Mid Staffordshire Hospitals between 2005 and 2009.
The report is likely to recommend fundamental changes in patient care and how we improve safety and quality in hospitals and the community, particularly for the most vulnerable.
In his first report, published in 2010, Robert Francis QC said the problems were exacerbated by the need to make savings.
Robert Francis made the concluding comments:
People must always come before numbers. Indivudual patients and their treatment are what really matters. Statistics, benchmarks and action plans are tools not ends in themselves.
They should not come before patients and their experiences. This is what must be remembered by all those who design and implement policy for the NHS.
Councillor Clark said:
It is important we look carefully at any recommendations made by the Francis report before we start to make major changes in our area.
We need to look at the KPMG recommendations and Francis report together so we can plan ahead to ensure we have a health and care service that puts the patient first.
It will also be vitally important that full public consultation is carried out in the most open and transparent way possible.
A spokesperson for NHS North Yorkshire and York commented for clarification that they are six weeks ahead of the publication of the North Yorkshire NHS long term financial strategy report, the KPMG report referred to by Councillor Clark, and that the report is owned by the joint leaders of the NHS across North Yorkshire, and not KPMG.
The spokesperson added that proposals are yet to be published and there have been no threatened cuts to service.
On 30 November 2012, Chief Executive of NHS North Yorkshire and York, Christopher Long, said:
The leaders of NHS organisations across North Yorkshire and York have jointly commissioned management consultants KPMG to help us develop a long term strategy to return the health economy to a stable financial footing.
That strategy is currently in development and some details of early stage discussions have recently been made public. I met with NHS leaders from across the county yesterday (Thursday 30 November 2012) and we agreed to clarify a few points in response to concerns that have been raised locally.
As part of this long term strategy, we are not planning to close any district general hospitals and we will not be proposing to move to a single maternity and paediatric unit for North Yorkshire. Importantly, there will be a continued provision of A&E and maternity services in Scarborough.
We will be looking to change how we use our community hospitals and how we use community health services most effectively – helping patients remain in their own homes and reducing the need for hospital admissions. This strategy will, over time, enable a reduction in the number of beds within our acute hospitals in line with demand and will therefore improve the environment and the quality of care for our most acutely ill patients.
We are now refining the shortlisted options with NHS leaders across the county. Our intention is to publish and discuss the shortlist of options at NHS North Yorkshire and York’s Board on 22 January 2013. We are not planning to make any further statements until then.
I want to be very clear that should any of the suggestions require significant service change then the organisations involved are committed to formally engage and consult with patients, the public and all relevant partners.