Campaigners in Leicester are organising a public meeting to discuss what they believe may be an illegal move by local NHS bosses.
The campaigners are questioning the legality of a decision by local NHS bosses to downgrade the Leicester General Hospital without consulting the public.
Local NHS bosses have admitted that they made the decision to downgrade the hospital – by removing intensive care and other services – and went ahead to find contractors to undertake the work – without at any point consulting the public.
Tom Barker, Secretary of Save Our NHS Leicestershire, explains:
“People in Leicester are not only angry at the proposed removal of intensive care beds from the General, but also their exclusion from the process of decision-making. ‘Why does nobody ever ask us?’ is a common question we are asked at meetings and street stalls.”
“University Hospitals of Leicester (UHL) and local Clinical Commissioning Groups have been planning to remove intensive care beds from the General for three years. But at no time have they bothered to ask the public about these plans. They obviously think the public have nothing of interest to say on the matter.
“Public consultations represent an essential means by which hospital trusts and Clinical Commissioning Groups can present their arguments to the public, and the public can make their voices heard when it comes to the future of public services. It is our democratic right to have a say in the future of our services.”
UHL’s plans are potentially in breach of the law. Recent guidance from NHS England echoes earlier guidance that substantial changes in health services should entail undertaking public consultation.(1)
The question of consulting the public is especially pressing given the gravity of UHL’s plans.
As made apparent in the UHL’s larger (at this stage draft) plans for Leicester’s three acute hospitals and in the Sustainability and Transformation Plan (STP) for Leicester, Leicestershire and Rutland, it has been known for some time that they aim to remove acute service provision from the General Hospital.
But to date the local NHS organisations putting together the STP have not published their finalised plans for these huge changes for the public, local campaigners and elected politicians to see. The local NHS have only committed to consulting on these changes at some unknown point in the future. But it is clear that if the Trust succeeds in relocating level 3 intensive care services away from the General Hospital (without consultation), then they will have pre-empted a later consultation as they will have already downgraded the hospital. Arguably it makes a future consultation on the fate of the Leicester General Hospital more of a ‘done deal’.
Save Our NHS Leicestershire is calling for a full public consultation into University Hospitals of Leicester’s ongoing efforts to remove the level 3 intensive care and associated services from Leicester General Hospital.
Save Our NHS Leicestershire is holding a public meeting on Saturday September 29 at Hansom Hall, Leicester Adult Education College, Belvoir Street, at 14:00 to discuss how we can challenge these proposals and restore our right to be consulted. All are welcome to attend: https://goo.gl/WBssCh
(1) Planning, assuring and delivering service change for patients’ (NHS England 2018)