Will there be a legal challenge if health chiefs overturn the decision for a minor injuries unit at Cossham?

cossham picA campaigner fighting to secure a minor injuries unit for Cossham Hospital in Kingswood has written to the Prime Minister to find out whether local health chiefs have the right not to go ahead with it.

Hazel Szots has been unable to get a straightforward ‘yes’ or ‘no’ answer to the question: Does the Clinical Commissioning Group for South Gloucestershire have the right to ignore the decision made in 2009 by the then Primary Care Trust (PCT) for South Gloucestershire?

We put her question to the CCG, asking for a simple yes or no answer, but did not get that. See their statement below.

Meanwhile Kingswood MP Chris Skidmore, who has been supporting the campaigners, told The Week In that he feels a legal challenge may be possible if the CCG decides to go against the PCT’s decision.

As we have previously reported, the CCG is considering what other urgent care services should be included at Cossham, which may or may not include a minor injuries unit, and a decision is expected in the autumn.

Mrs Szots told us said that she had emailed the Department of Health, written to the Minister for Health Jeremy Hunt, and also to David Cameron to try to get a definitive answer on the CCG’s right or otherwise to ignore the 2009 decision.

“Although I have not yet had a reply from the Prime Minister, I doubt that it will be any different from the rest of the replies I have received and it will also avoid answering my question,” she said.

“The decision made, after a lengthy consultation with the PCT, was to refurbish Cossham Hospital and install a minor injuries unit, all of which was costed for. The hospital has now been refurbished and the space for the MIU is there.

“As of this week there will is no hospital with an A&E at Frenchay.  The people of this area will have to travel to Bath or right across Bristol (through heavy traffic unless late at night) to Southmead for an A&E.  Although there is a minor injuries unit at Yate (about an 11-mile journey) it is fairly useless inasmuch as no X-ray facilities are available on weekends (the busiest time for such injuries as a rule) so patients are just referred on to A&Es.  Doctors’ surgeries would not help for injuries where X-rays were needed either.

“The email I received back from the Department of Health merely offered me a lot of different websites to look at for an answer – none of which applied.  The letter I received back on behalf of the Minister merely told me the excuses I had already heard from the CCG – they were awaiting the National Review on Emergency Care from Sir Bruce Keogh and they wanted to take account of local evidence.

“They already have the local evidence from back in 2009 when over 400 people tried to cram into a meeting about the hospital; there was also a lengthy march and no one could be in any doubt about the strength of feeling.  That has not changed – the CCG do not need to ‘take account of local evidence’, they already have it.”

The statement from the CCG

“South Gloucestershire CCG would be happy to answer any questions Mrs Szots has regarding how it makes decisions and would encourage her to get in touch with us directly with any questions or comments she has. 

“The way in which health and social care services are provided is continually evolving in response to changing health needs; as a result of new medicines, new technology and changes in national policy; and because of new evidence about best practice. The CCG therefore has to take all this into account in developing plans and when deciding how local health budgets are spent to ensure that it meets the needs of the whole population.  

“All CCGs also have a statutory duty to involve local people in planning local health services and in decisions about significant changes to the way services are provided.”