Monitor has declined to act on local authority concerns about major foundation trust service change on at least two occasions in the last year, it has emerged.
The regulator told council scrutiny committees the changes - closure of a consultant led maternity unit by Heart of England Foundation Trust and bed closures at Gloucestershire Hospitals Foundation Trust - were mainly a local concern to take up with primary care trusts.
Solihull Council health scrutiny committee wrote to Monitor in March after Heart of England stopped providing the consultant led maternity service at Solihull Hospital before a consultation was complete. The trust said this was because the service did not meet safety standards. The committee said it was not asked about the change.
Monitor said it would not act because the closure did not affect the trusts’ “terms of authorisation”. These specify which services it must provide but not where they must be located, said Monitor. The trust still provides full maternity services at another site.
Gloucestershire County Council health scrutiny committee also wrote to Monitor, with concerns about Gloucestershire Hospitals Foundation Trust plans to reduce bed numbers.
The regulator responded: “Monitor has no role in the determination of how services are provided locally, which is a matter for resolution by the provider and its commissioners on behalf of local people.”
Gloucestershire scrutiny committee chair Andrew Gravells told HSJ new legislation was needed to ensure acute and foundation trusts consulted with scrutiny committees.
He said: “With the demise of PCTs, the role of local authorities and scrutiny committees becomes even more critical.”
Monitor confirmed it had never referred a service change to the Independent Reconfiguration Panel, which reviews changes at the request of NHS organisations and the health secretary.