Health report leaves patients in the dark

Hospital cuts protestors Glenn Eyre, left, Wendy Thompson, and Mark Starkey, founder of the Facebook protest page. Photo by Andrew Higgins 124916a   04/12/12
Hospital cuts protestors Glenn Eyre, left, Wendy Thompson, and Mark Starkey, founder of the Facebook protest page. Photo by Andrew Higgins 124916a 04/12/12
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A much-anticipated heathcare report has been branded “a complete let-down and waste of money” by a Scarborough patient spokesman.

Leo McGrory, of Scarborough and District Local Involvement Network (LINK), said the 19-page North Yorkshire and York Clinical Services review could have been written in one line - “pass the buck”.

The report, which cost £320,000 of public money, was expected to give details about where savings could be made across the NHS in North Yorkshire.

Controversy raged last year when a document was leaked from consultants KPMG, who were working on the report, stating that money-saving ideas could include closing Scarborough A&E at night and downgrading maternity services.

The Scarborough News started a campaign and petition to protect services at Scarborough Hospital, which to date has received around 1,000 signatures.

However, the report, which came out on Tuesday, offers no concrete suggestions on how to clear the £19m debt faced by NHS North Yorkshire and York.

It states that the responsibility will now lie with new local Clinical Commissioning Groups (CCGs), which come into force from April.

Mr McGrory said: “The report is pretty unsatisfactory. The buck has been passed lock, stock and barrel to the CCGs and to me, there’s nothing constructive in there at all.

“It is lacking in specifics - everything is generalised.”

He added that the report seemed “designed to confuse” and was “disjoined and lacking in substance”.

Mr McGrory also raised concerns about the lack of patient involvement and input in the report, saying the absence of public consultation was ““seriously worrying”.

Health campaigner Mark Starkey, who set up a Facebook group in support of Scarborough Hospital A&E department, said he was concerned about an apparent emphasis on reducing patient admissions.

He said: “There seems to be an overarching theme across the review to look at opportunities for restructuring and downsizing the current level of in-patient admissions.

“The ethos is to admit into hospital as few people as possible and discharge them at an earlier opportunity via the implementation of assistive technology at home and community based options.

“On the one hand I’m sure patients would rather be at home, but we need to ensure patients are not discharged unreasonably early. If the patient is at home it is vital that they still receive the correct level of care appropriate to their condition. Furthermore it worries me that once opportunities for reducing admission levels are realised there will be a downgrading and downsizing of hospital services because of the lower demand as per the stepped approach in the KPMG review.”

Mr Starkey said he also believes it is unfair that Scarborough and Ryedale CCG will start life in April saddled with £2.4m of debt, part of the £19m to be shared out across North Yorkshire.

The report refers in general terms to money-saving ideas such as more use of technology, seven-day working, better sharing of care records and caring for more people in their own homes.

Filey GP Phil Garnett, of Scarborough and Ryedale CCG, said: “These are very important decisions and I want to make sure they are the right decisions.”