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Healthwatch Derbyshire welcomes the decision to defer cuts to discretionary grants for voluntary sector organisations until next year, following a Governing Body meeting that took place on 28th September 2018.
It has been agreed that a further period of review would take place ahead of a final decision being made on proposed cuts to more than 20 groups or charities in the County.
This will include additional engagement to enable the Derbyshire Clinical Commissioning Group to reach a more informed decision which is set to be made at their Board Meeting in December.
Healthwatch Derbyshire chief executive Karen Ritchie said:
“All along I have been really concerned with the pace of implementation of the Financial Recovery Plan. Within such a short timeframe it was always going to be very difficult, if not impossible, for the public to be able to genuinely influence decisions being made on services that ultimately impact upon the care and treatment they receive.
“There is a legal duty on commissioners to inform, involve and consult patients and the public in the planning of commissioning arrangements, the development of proposals for change, and decisions about how services operate.
“I’m pleased that the Derbyshire Clinical Commissioning Group have been held to account and will now undertake a further round of engagement in order to meet their legal obligations.
“However, this does not excuse the fact that there should have been an appropriate period of review at the beginning of this process. Instead, they tried to rush through engagement over a 4-week period in order to be able to make a decision on the cuts at their Board meeting in August.
“The whole process has been ambiguous which has needlessly caused a lot of stress and anxiety.
“Communication with the voluntary sector during this period was poor, demonstrating a total lack of respect for their work and the years spent supporting Clinical Commissioning Groups to deliver health and social care services.
“The voluntary sector was undoubtedly owed the apology made by the Derbyshire Clinical Commissioning Group at the Governing Body meeting.
“Moving forward it is vital that voluntary sector services are informed immediately as to the format of the additional review period. The process needs to be transparent with clear lines of communication to avoid any further confusion or ambiguity.
“In August 2018 Healthwatch Derbyshire received a letter from the Derbyshire Clinical Commissioning Group expressing their desire to conduct future engagement at a much earlier stage and an invitation for Healthwatch to play a role in supporting this work.
“We hope that lessons have been learnt and that the Derbyshire Clinical Commissioning Group back up their words with actions which demonstrate a serious commitment towards public engagement and consultation.“This needs to happen at the earliest possible stage when people’s voice can truly influence the decision-making process.”