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Column 26th February 2020

Our Health Scrutiny Committee is just as powerless are we are

There was an article in last week’s Herald about the Police and Crime Panel not having any power to hold the Police Commissioner to account for recent behaviour.

“the panel can only suggest what he could do differently in the future or ask him to apologise and even then he could choose not to do so.”

This reminded me of recent events at the Health Overview and Scrutiny Committee (HOSC).

This committee, supposedly, works to strengthen the voice of local people and improve the health of residents by ensuring their needs and experiences are integral to the purchase, delivery and development of health services.

It consist of county councillors, and representatives from the county’s four district councils, the city council and GPs and, supposedly, examines and scrutinises proposals that change how local NHS services are run.

When Wantage Community Hospital temporarily closed to in-patients in July 2016 (because of a potential threat of legionella), the Health Trusts promised HOSC that a consultation would be held about the health services in Community Hospitals before the end of 2016.

The only consultation was about the services at the Horton Hospital in Banbury.

After waiting two years over 1000 people attended a rally in Wantage in July 2018 to campaign for the reopening of in-patient facilities.

HOSC requested that the Oxford Health NHS Foundation Trust spend the money which had been put aside for the renovation of the plumbing system in the Hospital within six months.

The Trust refused and suggested that a project be set up to review the Health and Care needs of OX12.

The Project Director told HOSC that this project would be complete by June 2019.

The final report went to HOSC in February 2020 and stated that it wasn’t sufficiently detailed to make a decision about the future of the beds and proposed a new consultation process to take the final decision later this year.

The Project Director proposed a new timetable which covered the timeframe from January to September 2020. It included a public engagement in February/ March 2020.

This was accepted by HOSC.

It’s now 26th February and as far as we can tell no public engagement has started.

Having attended nearly every HOSC meeting since before the “temporary” closure of in-patient facilities in Wantage Hospital took place, the Save Wantage Hospital Group believe that HOSC has no power what so ever and that the NHS will do what it wants.


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