The news that all three minor injuries units in the Cambridgeshire Fens – Ely, Wisbech, and Doddington – could be closed to save cash is deeply shocking.
The proposal itself is bad enough. The units are popular, local, and see a large number of patients with a range of injuries. But the manner in which the news has become public is appalling.
It’s only a matter of weeks since Cambridgeshire & Peterborough Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG) published a summary of its Fit For the Future programme. (The full document still doesn’t seem to be available to the public). With its bright, cheerful colours, and its LS Lowry-like imagery, it exudes optimism and positivity.
‘You are at the centre of this plan’, the jolly leaflet tells us.
But it’s taken a whistle-blower to break the news that what this palette of platitudes really means is the closure of three well-used local facilities in the north eastern part of Cambridgeshire.
Our local Clinical Commissioning Group, responsible for health care spending in our area, was less than a week ago announced to have been judged ‘inadequate‘ by NHS England for both leadership and finances. Our local health service is one of the worst funded in the country, and millions of pounds were lost on the Uniting Care contract for older people’s care which collapsed at the end of last year.
Nobody underestimates the scale of the effort required to address these problems. But the furtive and less than candid approach we’ve seen today doesn’t do anyone any credit.
The public involvement undertaken to date by the CCG in the preparation of its Fit For the Future plan has been, to say the least, patchy. The plan’s Facebook page has only 67 ‘likes’, and its Twitter account only a little over 500 followers.
With the whistle well and truly blown, our Clinical Commissioning Group now needs to come clean with the 930,000 people in its area, and open an honest, genuine, and wide-reaching dialogue about its plans for health services in our area.