Strategic Review Into Cornwall’s Health And Social Care

An independent person will chair a strategic review to be carried out by the new Cornwall Primary Care Trust into all aspects of healthcare provision in Cornwall. Cornwall’s Health and Adult Social Care Overview and Scrutiny Committee have given the Primary Care Trust two months to carry out the review. If members are not satisfied with the results they could then request a separate independent inquiry to be carried out.

Cornwall Council has expressed serious concerns about the current state of healthcare in Cornwall. Two weeks ago it told the newly appointed management team of the Strategic Health Authority that it would call on the Healthcare Commission to carry out an urgent investigation into the provision of healthcare services unless the SHA could convince members of the Scrutiny Committee that they had a clear forward plan on the future direction of both health and social care.

At today’s meeting of the Scrutiny Committee, John Bewick, Director of Strategic Development for NHS South West, responded to the Council’s challenge. He gave a detailed presentation on health services in Cornwall and said that the SHA was fully aware of the concerns expressed by local people. He said it was vital that everyone worked together to address the issues and said they intended to commission the new Primary Care Trust to carry out a strategic review of healthcare throughout Cornwall.

He emphasised that the review would include widespread detailed engagement with members of the public, as well as key stakeholders, including the County Council. It should be completed within two months, with a plan brought back to the next meeting of the Health and Adult Social Care Overview and Scrutiny Committee on Nov 28th.

Following calls from some members of the Committee for any review to be totally independent, Mr Bewick, and Ann James, the newly appointed Chief Executive of the Primary Care Trust, said that an inquiry independent of the NHS would take much longer to complete and could cost hundreds of thousands of pounds. They suggested it would be much better for the people of Cornwall to work together to address the issues facing the healthcare community and pledged that the review would be chaired by an independent senior national figure.

Mr Bewick and Mrs James also promised to draw up detailed proposals for engaging with local people within the next two weeks, together with terms of reference for the review.

The offer for an independent chair of the review was welcomed by County Councillor Nigel Walker, the County Council’s Executive Member for Adults. “The appointment of an independent person to chair this important review will go a long way to restoring public confidence in the process “. he said.

The meeting was told that there had been significant changes in health organisations in Cornwall in recent months, with a new Strategic Health Authority- NHS South West – , with a new Chief Executive in Sir Ian Carruthers, a new Chief Executive of the Royal Cornwall Hospitals NHS Trust, a new Chief Executive of the Cornwall Partnership Trust, and a new single Primary Care Trust with a new Chair and a new Chief Executive.

John Bewick said this strong new and experienced team were determined to listen to local people and work with them to develop health services in the county. They accepted the need to restore public confidence in the NHS in Cornwall and asked the Committee to give them the opportunity to address the issues and improve the county’s health services .

A widespread discussion followed, during which members of the Committee emphasised the need for the public’s concerns on issues such as funding and any possible reduction in services to be properly listened to and called for them to have their say in shaping future health services in the county.
Nigel Walker told the meeting “We have an opportunity now to look forward instead of backwards . Advanced surgery now no longer requires long bed stays, inappropriate admissions to hospital can be avoided. Together with our health partners we are developing ways to support people at home rather than call an ambulance. Services that don’t need to be in hospital will be provided out of hospital – this is better for patients and a lot less expensive. “

“All these and other initiatives mean that things will need to change and it is clearly appropriate that this is done with all our new partners – the new PCT, which is responsible for the health of the community, and the new SHA which will ensure performance. We were given unambiguous undertakings that the proposed review will be independent and that the initial consultation and public involvement will be in time for the Committee’s next meeting on 28th Nov”.

The proposal by Councillor Carolyn Rule for a strategic review to be carried out by the PCT and chaired by an independent person was carried by 14 votes to 5, with members indicating to both the SHA and the PCT that they could request an independent inquiry if they were not satisfied with the results of the review .

Mike Nicholls, Chair of the Health and Adult Social Care Overview and Scrutiny Committee, said “ I am pleased with the outcome of the meeting, which balances the need to take urgent action to bring best practise to the Cornish Health Community with the clear anxieties and frustrations of the public We have not ruled out an independent review but feel it will be to the benefit of the Cornish population if the PCT can bring forward a plan we can all sign up to in the next two months. “