Health bosses face no-confidence vote

STEVE DOWNES Pressure piled up on beleaguered health bosses as they faced a vote of no confidence from councillors angry at a “fundamentally flawed” plan to scrap care beds across Norfolk.


Pressure piled up on beleaguered health bosses last night as they faced a vote of no confidence from councillors angry at a “fundamentally flawed” plan to scrap care beds across Norfolk.

The motion came as Norfolk Primary Care Trust (PCT) bowed to people power and agreed changes to make forthcoming meetings about the proposed bed cuts more public-friendly.

Broadland District Council will vote tonight on the no confidence motion, tabled by Ian Mackie and Jo Cottingham, which is scathing in its condemnation of the PCT's plans to cut 43 of 200 intermediate care beds and replace them with home care.

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Council leader Simon Woodbridge, who is expecting the motion to be passed “comfortably”, said: “There are lots of concerns about whether these proposals are financially driven, and whether people's health interests will be protected.

“The consultation document is fundamentally flawed because the PCT is not coming up with any detailed alternatives to what will be lost.

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“This document is the Ladybird 3a version, with very little detail and very little input from clinicians. It's purely a structural admin exercise from a bunch of bureaucrats.”

The motion has no direct impact on the PCT but is an embarrassment to them as a 90-day consultation period gets under way on the plan to close beds at St Michael's Hospital at Aylsham, Cranmer House at Fakenham and Benjamin Court at Cromer.

Mark Taylor, director for provider services for the PCT, said: “The consultation period is designed to encourage local debate on the future of intermediate care services. If questions arise from the consultation we are happy to clarify any concerns.

“Prior to the public consultation document for the intermediate care services review being launched a review was carried out by clinicians, managers and local patient representatives across the county, discussions were held with as many staff as possible and six public engagement meetings were held in November of last year to gain public input for our consultation.”

Public anger at the possible cuts -part of efforts to eat into Norfolk PCT's £50m-plus debt - surfaced as 300 people turned out at Aylsham Town Hall for the first of a series of public meetings to explain the plans.

Placard-waving local GPs made their feelings known, while members of the public were angry at the absence of PCT officials to answer their questions.

A week earlier the EDP was refused entry to another meeting about the plans, at St Michael's Hospital in Aylsham.

Last night, the PCT moved to mollify critics by changing the meetings, which had been planned as “low-key” exhibitions, and adding an extra gathering at Aylsham.

Trish Turner, head of communications and patient and public involvement, said: “Because of the high level of interest shown by the public and having regard to people's safety and well being, we have decided to change the style of future meetings.”

She said the meetings would “chaired, theatre style”, where people could be safely seated, listen to a presentation and ask questions.

A PCT statement said the changes were “a direct response” to feedback from the Aylsham meeting, and added: “We believe this format will provide a better opportunity for those present to both pose questions and hear the answers.”

The consultation period runs from March 6 to June 5. The new-style meetings are at:

t Cromer Parish Hall, March 23, 10am-2pm

t Fakenham Community Centre, March 29, 10am-2pm

t Holt Community Centre, April 4, 10am-2pm

t Dereham Memorial Hall, April 17, 10am-2pm

t Swaffham Community Centre, April 18, 4pm-7pm

t North Walsham Community Centre, April 24, 10am-2pm

t Wymondham Central Hall, May 11, 10am-2pm

t St Andrews and Blackfriars halls, Norwich, May 16, 10am-2pm

t Aylsham High School, May 23, 5pm-7.30pm.

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