The former chair of a county council’s health overview and scrutiny committee has described the delayed reconfiguration of a trust as “a tragedy”, and blamed the local HOSC.
Councillor Bernard Lloyd said Enfield Council’s HOSC had made it “almost impossible” for Barnet and Chase Farm Hospitals to complete their reconfiguration project.
Cllr Lloyd was speaking at a Confed session on delivering effective acute service reconfiguration and was on the panel as a former chair of HOSC at neighbouring Hertfordshire County Council.
The Hertfordshire HOSC had approved the reconfiguration plans of East and North Hertfordshire Trust, whose chair and chief executive also spoke at the meeting.
Cllr Lloyd said: “In Enfield they had cllrs who were elected not on a party political ticket but on a ‘Save Chase Farm’ ticket. I went into that committee and said ‘You cannot exercise proper objective scrutiny’. I was not welcome.
“It’s a tragedy for north London what has happened, the delays that are there. They started off from completely the wrong angle.”
The Barnet Enfield and Haringey programme, which involved moving A&E and maternity services from Chase Farm Hospital has now been referred back to the Independent Reconfiguration Panel for the second time.
The medical director of neighbouring North Middlesex University Hospital warned earlier this year if the decision was delayed much further it could have a serious impact on the future viability of his trust.
NMUH has prepared facilities to take some of the activity no longer being carried out at Chase Farm which could sit unused, he warned.
In his presentation chief executive of East and North Hertfordshire Trust Nick Carver said it was important to overcome the “NHS reconfiguration hypothesis”.
He said this consisted of three assumptions: The public have unrealistic assumptions of service delivery, politicians are by their nature short-termist and clinicians are often not prepared to support change.”
He told the audience the trust’s reconfiguration, which is now only awaiting Department of Health sign-off on capital funds, had seen a “reasonably responsible” local media and politicians “prepared to engage in a rational debate”
When properly engaged with the public were reasonable on the issues of location and specialisation of services, he added.
Jane Halpin, interim chief executive of NHS Hertfordshire, told the audience not to underestimate the amount of work this engagement took, saying the primary care trust had a “single team doing nothing else for two years” on the project and that it involved a long term investment in the critical relationships.