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Healthwatch Derbyshire fears that calls for meaningful public engagement ahead of cuts have gone unheeded.
Healthwatch Derbyshire – the patient health and social care watchdog – has pledged to continue to fight for the public’s right to have their say on potentially drastic service cuts across the county.
Healthwatch Derbyshire Chief Executive Karen Ritchie is due to meet Dr Chris Clayton, the Chief Executive of Derbyshire Clinical Commissioning Groups (CCG) on September 11 following recent correspondence between the two organisations.
Ms Ritchie has highlighted her grave concerns that patients, carers and the public are not being given the opportunity to have their say on the impact of actions required to address the £95m budget deficit in health budgets.
She fears that services will be cut on a piecemeal basis but that, collectively, these will have a ‘catastrophic’ effect on local people’s lives.
Ms Ritchie said: “Healthwatch Derbyshire received a response to the letter issued highlighting our concerns on Friday 10th August 2018, this was within the required timeframe of 20 working days.
“We would like to thank Dr Chris Clayton, responding on behalf of Derbyshire Clinical Commisioning Group, for replying in a timely manner.
“We welcome the commitment to conducting future engagement at a much earlier stage and the invitation for Healthwatch to play a role in supporting this vital work.
“Unfortunately, having taken the time to carefully analyse the full response, it does nothing to allay the grave concerns Healthwatch Derbyshire felt it necessary to raise.
“In some instances, Dr Chris Clayton fails to directly answer specific questions and in others, responses are so vague that it offers little assurance that the Clinical Commissioning Group intends to meet requirements as stated in the *Health and Social Care Act 2012 Section 14Z2, or the *Equalities Public Sector Duty S149.
“Expert advice has been sought on this matter and, over coming months, Healthwatch Derbyshire will continue to challenge the Derbyshire Clinical Commissioning Group with regards to the implementation of the Financial Recovery Plan.
“A meeting has been scheduled with Dr Chris Clayton to take place on Tuesday 11th September 2018 to follow up on the response and take forward our concerns.
“We will also take the opportunity to discuss his plans for a more open and transparent engagement plan, in which people are given a genuine opportunity to influence future commissioning decisions.”
Ms Ritchie continued: “Legally, public and stakeholder consultation must be at a time when proposals are still at a formative stage and I see no evidence that this is the case.
“Furthermore, with the pace of implementation of the plan, it is going to be very difficult for the public to genuinely influence decisions being made that will ultimately impact their care and treatment.
“As discussions progress, I would urge local people to share with us their views and experiences of service cuts to help us build a picture of the impact that these actions are having.”