Some people are wary about the real purposes of both Government and local Council consultation processes. We are told that we should engage in such official channels if we want our views to be counted; but all too often our opinions are disregarded, and people are left feeling conned and insulted.
Now, faced with the serial underfunding of our health service, NHS England are busily pretending to consult on the future of the treatment of Congenital Heart Defects (CHD). NHS England say that in order to improve standards they might have to close some heart units, and so they want you to contribute to their ongoing consultation to see what you think.
But sadly NHS England cannot even abide by best practice consultation principles that have been laid down by the Cabinet Office. One obvious key principle is: “Do not ask questions about issues on which you already have a final view.” Yet on their simplified consultation CHD website — that specifically targets youth – NHS England commit the cardinal sin of consultation.
Specifically, they ask: “Did you know that the Royal Brompton, University Hospitals of Leicester (and for adults the Central Manchester University Hospitals) will not continue to provide operations and interventions in the future?” Wow, what a revelation! NHS England want young people to continue with a “consultation” on proposed cuts, while telling them the cuts are happening regardless! I for one would understand why many people might find it hard to progress beyond this first question.
Nevertheless, if we are going to ward off ongoing attacks on our NHS, then it is important that we persuade as many people as possible to make their anger at the “proposed” cuts as visible as possible. For a start, this will mean holding our noses and participating in the consultation.
But beyond this, we need to build upon the numerous massively successful protests in defence of the NHS, and be prepared to fight against all health care cuts. NHS England must receive a clear message: we will not let them close our heart unit, or any heart unit for that matter.
We must also use this critical moment to reject NHS England’s cost-cutting efforts to “transform” Leicestershire’s hospital system by removing hundreds of our acute hospital beds. And, on this score, we must demand that Leicester City Labour Council join us by using their legal ability to totally reject the local Sustainability and Transformation Plan — a package of cuts that is best described as an attempt to Slash, Trash, and Privatise our NHS.
On the last point, email Councillor Vi Dempster, the chair of Leicester City Council’s Health and Wellbeing Scrutiny Commission, and ask her whether she is planning to reject the Sustainability and Transformation Plan — firstname.lastname@example.org
For details of the full consultation materials, see https://www.engage.england.nhs.uk/consultation/chd/