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LibDem meets the Herts. Valleys CCG - speaking up for a growing population in Hemel Hempstead

July 20, 2017 3:38 PM
By Adrian England

Who can break with the "Pragmatic but Tragic" course of local health decisions affecting Dacorum for decades?

On the local hospital questions both Labour and Conservatives blame each other for the past; this isn't answering the dawning questions for the future.

LibDem Borough Councillor Adrian England met with HVCCG's David Evans on 12th July to try to unpick the future challenges.

Cllr Adrian England outside Hemel HospitalCllr England said of the meeting:

"We had a good discussion - thank you David Evans, Programme Director at the Herts Valley Clinical Commissioning Group (HVCCG), for giving generously of your time, listening and explaining.

I explained to David - and he appeared willing to understand - that from a Dacorum point of view there is a damaged trust relationship between the people in the community and HVCCG; this has been exacerbated by recurring shortfall on, for example, 2009 Primary Care Trust (PCT) promises regarding the provision of a 24hr Urgent Care Centre versus the current 2016/2017 experience.

In 2009 when the Hemel A&E was closed, the then PCT (forerunner of today's CCG) allayed local protests by promising that a 24hr Urgent Care Centre would be maintained in Hemel Hempstead.

Since the 2008 financial crisis, overall Health spending has been protected from "cuts". Yet the real picture is that the HVCCG needs more money, because patient needs are growing faster.

The space Clinical Commissioning Groups are given, to offer patient choice and promise things, is limited by regulators and most of all by national Government policy on spending. We just very recently voted for no change there, by choosing our MP and in doing so boosting the number of Conservatives, such that Theresa May clings on."

Adrian talked to the HVCCG about the rising relative population size of Hemel Hempstead in particular, compared with the other large towns in the HVCCG area, and how this impacts on the optimal location of future hospital based services.

Disappointingly, HVCCG say they cannot yet give a date for UCC to go back to 24hr but they also say they are hopeful of a route forwards, to be clarified in September which will re-establish Urgent Care and direct more patients there.

Adrian pushed them for a high profile press statement on delays to date with Urgent Care closures and its planning. That, at least, may now come soon.

Of course the meeting dealt with the recent decision to press forward with the Strategic Outline Case to locate the Acute Hospital in Watford;

Adrian commented: "I believe this is tragic pragmatism; in the face of a huge opportunity for a visionary 21st century hospital solution, the HVCCG has chosen a piecemeal, penny-wise but pound-foolish course."

The discussion covered the planned Hemel Healthcare Hub, the commissioning choices including mental health funding, the treatment-restriction proposals being consulted upon now by HVCCG in order to save £40 million as they are in Financial Turnaround. These include:
• Tightening up existing rules so that people who smoke or whose weight is classified as 'obese' are required to make bigger improvements to their health before non-urgent surgery - unless a longer wait for surgery would be harmful
• Reducing or stopping the availability of NHS- funded IVF (in vitro fertilisation) and specialist fertility services
• Limiting the routine prescription of medicines and products that can be bought without prescription, for short-term conditions and minor ailments
• Restricting the prescribing of gluten-free foods
• Stopping the routine funding for female sterilisation procedures
• Stopping the routine funding of vasectomies (this proposal would only affect patients registered with a GP in the Herts Valleys CCG area - eg Dacorum, Hertsmere, St Albans, Three Rivers and Watford).

IMPORTANT: We can - and all should - give our views in HVCCG consultations - and it should make a difference! Go to www.healthierfuture.org.uk/horizons to add your voice and say what your priorities are.

Reality Check: if the background is overall economies required by our chosen Government, then we need to realise we the electorate have not currently willed the resources to match the solution we want to see.