In any large, varied organisation it is always possible to extract a number of small examples and distort the true picture.

Unison joint branch secretary Mick Griffiths is reported to be 'a key opponent of proposals to relocate acute services from two sites to one'. The report refers to Wakefield CHC, but Pontefract and York CHCs were the lead 'key opponents' to the plans.

We consulted the public in numerous ways, organised public meetings with the health authority and trusts. We ran a high-profile media campaign, and involved local MPs, councillors, the ambulance trust, other CHCs and the NHS regional office.

It needs long hours of dedicated skill to produce a real, strong opposition, and to be involved with the health authorities and NHS decision-makers to show why plans will not work. Clearly it was because of the CHCs' efforts that the plans were defeated.

Although CHCs are voluntary organisations, they are far from 'toothless tigers'. They have sharp teeth that they use often. But we also use cunning, we investigate, and plan so that our victim runs away, with their tails between their legs.

Alan W Hartley


Yorks CHC, Northern & Yorkshire Association of CHCs Vice-chair